Mandatory face masks a ‘really good idea’ to curb COVID-19, says expert

With COVID-19 cases surging in many U.S. states, Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said requiring everyone to wear face masks would be a smart move.

In a July 13, 2020 interview with NPR’s Noel King, Jha commented on the COVID-19 response in Florida and Louisiana, where COVID-19 cases have spiked in recent days.

Calling the situation in Florida “quite dire,” Jha noted that “there were more cases in Florida yesterday than in all of Europe, including Russia.” He added, “There is a small window here to stave off a full statewide shelter-in-place. They’ve got to get everybody wearing masks, shut down all indoor activities. They really have to take aggressive action or I think they’re going to find themselves without any choice but to do a shelter-in-place.”

In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on July 11 that it would be mandatory for everyone over age eight to wear a mask in public. Jha called the mandate “a really good idea.”

Jha said that many governors and mayors are doing a great job to contain the pandemic. He said he’d like to see more local, state, and federal leaders speak out on the importance of taking the coronavirus seriously. “Look, we have all the tools we need to get this virus under control and get our lives back, open up schools, to do all the things we care about,” he said, adding, “If we don’t [take this on], we’re looking at weeks and months of a lot more suffering, a lot more death.”

Jha also discussed the coronavirus pandemic on NBC News’ Today Show on July 13 and on ABC’s Good Morning America on July 10.

Listen to the WBUR interview: Louisiana’s Governor Orders That Masks Must Be Worn

Watch Jha on the Today Show: Record Surge in Coronavirus Cases: States See Troubling Trend as Reopenings Rolled Back

Watch Jha on Good Morning America: America in Crisis: Top Health Expert on Testing Shortage