By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed course Friday, urging Americans to adhere to the universal wearing of face coverings when not at home as the US grapples with a surge of coronavirus cases and deaths.
The US has been recording record levels of cases, and saw an all-time high on Thursday when it confirmed over 217,000 daily infections. The surge is being fueled by more Americans getting together for the holidays, and other gatherings taking place indoors as temperatures drop for the winter.
The CDC urged state and local leaders to institute policies "or directives mandating universal use of face masks in indoor [nonhousehold] settings."
US President Donald Trump and several top Republicans have balked at past suggestions that masks be required universally.
But the pandemic has entered a second wave at astonishing levels. In addition to the record-high number of cases, the US also hit all-time-high number of daily deaths with 2,879 on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Deaths tend to lag behind confirmed cases, so the peak seen Thursday may result in even higher numbers of deaths in the coming weeks.