The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cloth face coverings in public settings to prevent spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Face coverings decrease the amount of infectious virus exhaled into the environment, reducing the risk an exposed person will become infected.1 Although many states and localities have ordered mask use, considerable variability and inconsistencies exist. Would a national mandate be an effective COVID-19 prevention strategy, and would it be lawful? Given the patchwork of state pandemic responses, should the CDC have enhanced funding and powers to forge a nationally coordinated response to COVID-19 and to future health emergencies?
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Corresponding Author: Lawrence O Gostin, JD, Georgetown University Law Center, 600 New Jersey Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: August 10, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.15271
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Additional Contributions: The authors thank Charles H. Bjork, JD, MSLIS, International & Foreign Law Reference Librarian, Georgetown University Law Center. Mr Bjork did not receive compensation in association with his contribution to this article.
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