Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

They Cannot Even Get Their Own Advice Straight: The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States is supposed to be a reliable source of information pertaining to the latest in helping people protect themselves from such threats as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, of which at the time this article was written, at least 295,101 people — or slightly greater than 6.85 percent — have died of the minimum of 4,307,287 confirmed cases worldwide, according to this situation dashboard from the World Health Organization pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus…

They Cannot Even Get Their Own Advice Straight: The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

…but the advice of how and when to wear masks and coverings for faces is conflicting at best — again, at the time this article was written.

The following paragraph is what is posted at the official Internet web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States…

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

…whereas this graphic states the recommendation of wearing a mask or covering for the face whenever going out in public.

face covering
Click on the graphic to access its source. Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States.

So which is it?

World Health Organization Advice

Perhaps you should instead consider relying on information which has been posted by the World Health Organization — but the recommendation from that entity pertaining to when to use a mask is yet again different:

For healthy people wear a mask only if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection


Wear a mask, if you are coughing or sneezing

Click on the graphic to access its source. Source: World Health Organization.

I will not even comment on the errant superfluous comma.

Mayo Clinic Advice

Should we instead turn to the Mayo Clinic — which is supposed to be another respected source of information pertaining to health — for advice on when to wear a mask or covering for the face?

Common sense also suggests that some protection is better than none. But wearing a cloth face mask will lose any value unless it’s combined with frequent hand-washing and social distancing.


Cloth face masks should be worn in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.


Don’t use face masks as a substitute for social distancing.


I first highlighted the conflict in advice pertaining to masks and coverings for faces from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization in this article after the former agency reversed its stance on this issue last month on Friday, April 3, 2020.

One can argue that anyone can be forgiven for committing a mistake — including people who work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization — especially when attempting to keep up with the rapid pace of changes and new information pertaining to a virus which has millions of people literally fearing for their lives…

…but when a conflict in advice which is meant to protect the health of people in general is not reconciled, how can that advice be taken seriously? I have seen people — from a distance, of course — wear masks or coverings for their faces when they are all alone and far from the nearest person, which really serves no purpose at all.

For that matter, why can I not find a single photograph of Robert R. Redfield — who is the current director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — wearing a mask or covering for his face? Why can I not find a single photograph of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — who is the current director-general of the World Health Organization — wearing a mask or covering for his face? Is this a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do”?

This conflict in advice is inexcusable during a public health emergency and highlights one reason why I reached out to you, asking who in the world I can even trust anymore as a reliable source of unbiased information.

No wonder people are confused about what to do to fight the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic…

…and the aforementioned organizations cannot even get the official name of the virus straight, as this article is the latest in a series pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — which is also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2 or HCoV-19 or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 — pandemic in an effort to get the facts out with information derived from reliable sources…

…as well as attempt to maintain a reasoned and sensible ongoing discussion towards how to resolve this pandemic.

Other articles at The Gate which pertain to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus include:

Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I’m sorry. I do not want to make a political statement, but this is the reality.

    One of the reasons, I believe, the messages from CDC appear to be disorganized, is because the White House is interfering with the medical/scientific messages coming out of the CDC. My understanding (some of it substantiated) is that White House is selectively silencing some of the rational and well-thought out recommendations from the CDC, when they conflict with the White House message.

    1. Unfortunately, Naoyuki, politics have directly affected travel adversely.

      Whether you are correct or not, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an obligation to the public in the United States — not to the administration — of ensuring that its messages are as accurate as possible; and if the administration is interfering with them, they need to figure out ways to bypass that interference, as their credibility becomes less significant either way.

        1. I would not trust anything in the Washington Post if it is critical of the President. That’s not to say that I agree with everything he says but the Washington Post, like CNN, is not a news source, rather a party political broadcast.

    2. Absolutely correct.

      @Brian – Why do you continually assault science when it disagrees with what you feel? I’m sorry you don’t like what science says to do, for that matter I’m sorry for all of us but when in doubt, listen to Fauci. For brains and integrity, he’s without peer.

      1. As much as I respect science, Christian, I believe that I have a right to call it out on when I consider it to be inaccurate — especially in a worldwide public emergency, where confusion only adds to fear and accurate information is vital.

        As for Anthony Fauci — a fellow Brooklynite — I do not share the same admiration for him that you do for a variety of reasons…

        1. What widely respected expert would you consider listening to if not Fauci? One that has a scientific basis that disproves your beliefs? If there’s none, then you’re cherry picking science, saying that you’re fine with gravity, Mohs scale of hardness and the periodic table of elements but in this case personal feelings trump scientific fact. If any science that disproves your feelings is disregarded, then you believe in intuition rather than science.
          You may think I’m overreacting and that healthy people don’t die. Teja at Grabamile in Boarding area posted recently about a 32 year old that he worked with who died from the virus. My next door neighbors are both nurses and they know people who have died from this disease. This is when we need to follow science the most rather than the least, so we can save lives.

          1. Let us assume that I agree with you 100 percent, Christian.

            Why are we not doing what we can at any and all costs to prevent deaths and save lives which are caused by influenza, vehicle crashes, smoking tobacco products, drinking alcoholic beverages, violent crime, unsanitary living conditions, and consuming illicit drugs as seven of many ways literally millions of lives can be saved around the world every year? As one example, preventing a death from an automobile accident is so much easier than preventing one from a virus.

            I am sorry to learn of a colleague of Teja Pamganamamula dying from the 2019 Novel Coronavirus…


            …but you and I can both cite and document numerous examples of people we know who have died from other causes which can be just as heartbreaking.

            Why is preventing a death from the 2019 Novel Coronavirus currently a higher priority than preventing death from any other cause?

            That sounds a lot more like cherry picking to me…

      2. Brian seems very pro-science to me. The issue is that today science can be changed at will with new rules that don’t makes sense, and this is not only true about COVID-19, it’s true about parenting, weather and a host of other issues. Furthermore, in many instances, something becomes a commonly held belief just because it’s said enough times on the internet.

  2. It is really pretty simple. Wearing a non N95 mask does very little to directly protect the wearer. Things like social distancing and hand washing protect us as individuals. However community protection is another story. Wearing any sort of mask “probably” reduces the chance of someone asymptomatically or minimally infected from spreading the disease to others, through talking, coughing, or sneezing out infective droplets. I say probably because this is tough to definitively prove.

    1. I am not an epidemiologist, RabbMD, but I am not completely convinced that wearing any sort of facial covering actually protects others from being infected with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus…

      …and if it does, then we should be wearing something over our faces all of the time to protect others from other infectious diseases — such as influenza as one of many examples — and I am completely opposed to that.

      1. Many things are a balance between risks and benefits. You are right that the absolute safer thing to do is for people to always wear masks to help prevent viral spreads of things like flu, adenovirus colds, ect…. We as a society have not chosen to do that. Some Asian cultures have done more mask wearing to promote community health. This is somewhat analogous to a seat-belt argument in my opinion, which we as a society have chosen to enforce. Obviously public masks are a higher degree of intrusion into our personal comfort, but the concepts are similar. I do not think we will definitively prove that wearing a mask reduces spread of Covid 19 infections. But their is a reasonable mechanism to suggest this probably has a significant effect (I have seen 80% effective suggested, that is probably ballpark accurate but very difficult to prove). Covid is somewhat unique in the proportion of asymptomatic and minimally symptomatic is high compared to other significant infections disease we have encountered recently. The average time incubation time people can be infective prior to symptoms is also proving a significant difference from say SARs was. All this combines to make public masks something that might help, and has minimal economic costs honestly.

        1. Comparing wearing masks to using seat belts is an interesting analogy, RabbMD.

          Interestingly, I am a staunch proponent of the usage of seat belts; and yet I do not like the idea of wearing masks all of the time.

          Perhaps that higher degree of intrusion into our personal comfort is the reason why…

          …and your comment is thoughtful and well-reasoned. For the sake of keeping an open mind, I am interested in reading what other readers of The Gate think about what you wrote…

  3. Rampant “mask” confusion?!

    Thanks for continuing to address the mismanagement of this entire situation. The repeated attempts to maintain the initial hysteria continue. It is as though those in power are trying to make sure the information is always just a little bit incoherent to keep us guessing. And they wonder why we are actually NOT all in this together?

  4. The WHO advice is political (don’t wear a mask except certain narrow exceptions).

    The CDC warnings are good to remind people of the seriousness of the situation but I have been my own private CDC since about March 10th. That resulted in my own rules for myself. Reduce outside contact as much as possible, shop for food quickly / at low traffic times / buy a little more to reduce the number of trips to once every week to 10 days, wear masks when not at home, wash hands / don’t touch face.

  5. Brian, I noticed that you didn’t answer my question on which widely respected scientific authority you would accept as disproving your opinions.

    1. I answered your question before you asked it, Christian

      …I accepted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the New England Journal of Medicine, and other widely respected authorities — until I not only discovered that they are not always right or accurate; but also not everyone believes what they say…

      …especially when they conflict with themselves or each other; or when they do not do what they tell others to do.

      As a result, I read and form my own opinions and conclusions based on the information and data I read from numerous sources. If two supposedly respected and trusted sources present conflicting information, I cannot simply accept both without challenge. I must choose the information which I believe is ultimately right for me overall.

      Questioning authority is one of the freedoms which is part of why the United States is such a great country. I do not blindly follow any entity just because they say or publish something simply based on their reputations — just as I am not offended by anyone who questions what I write in my articles. Questioning leads to discussion of thoughts and beliefs from which we can learn.

      I do know one thing: no one is perfect. I have yet to find a person, organization, corporation, government, religion, or other entity which is 100 percent correct all of the time…

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!