(CNN) – The nation’s top infectious disease expert on Friday urged governors and mayors to “be as forceful as possible” to get people to wear face coverings.
Social distancing, an important factor in blunting the spread of coronavirus, can be difficult with more people going out, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
“When you’re living your life and trying to open up the country, you are going to come into contact with people. And for that reason, we know that masks are really important, and we should be using them everywhere,” he said during a US Chamber of Commerce virtual event.
Americans are actually slowing down the re-opening the country by not wearing a mask, said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
He said he respects the “spirit of independence in our country,” but says this is different.
People need to understand that we are in a very serious situation that necessitates communities pulling together, he said.
“If we could get more people to understand that, hopefully we’ll get more people who’d be willing to wear masks.”
He said he would “urge the leaders — the local political and other leaders — in states and cities and towns to be as forceful as possible in getting your citizenry to wear masks.”
The country needs to concentrate on the problems at hand and not worry about a second wave, he said.
“When you’re having up to 70,000 new infections … that’s something you need to focus on right now, as opposed to looking at what’s going to happen in September or October,” he said.