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Tipsheet

White House COVID Response Coordinator Makes a Stunning Admission About Masks

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha has publicly admitted that masking is not very effective in preventing respiratory viruses.  

Speaking during an online event titled “The Future of COVID and Public Health, which was sponsored by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jha argued more needs to be done to improve indoor air quality. 

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"In terms of other investments, there are a lot of dollars that came out of the American Rescue Plan given to cities and states for investments in improving of indoor air quality," he said. "I actually think this is probably the most important long-term thing we can be doing for schools, for office buildings, for nursing homes. Indoor air quality is sort of – just not gotten the level of attention it deserves. You know, most experts believe that if we make some basic investments in indoor air quality, we can reduce, in fact, all respiratory infections by 30 or 60, or even 80 percent. I mean, the notion that you could cut respiratory infections – there is no study in the world that shows masks work that well. So, you’re never going to get the kind of benefit from mandatory year-round masking, as you would from making substantial improvements in indoor air quality, plus it’s a lot easier to implement as well. So, this is an area where we’re doing a lot and trying to really encourage people to use the resources they have to make those investments and start really improving ventilation filtration."

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The comments come despite Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky recommending earlier this month the use of a "high-quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses" during the holiday season. Additionally, schools and cities across the U.S. are beginning to reimpose mask requirements, including in Philadelphia Public Schools, which will mandate their use among K-12 schoolchildren for 10 days in January. 

Not everyone was pleased with Jha's remarks. 

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