BALTIMORE (WJZ) — During his visit to Baltimore, U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams addressed why federal health experts changed recommendations about face masks while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s important for people to understand how science works — we look at the data, we make the best recommendation that we can at the time based on the data, but then science is about continuing to collect new data, and continuing to refine your recommendations,” Adams said. “When you get new data you have to have the vigilance and the humility to continue to collect that data.”

Because COVID-19 is part of a family of virus, including SARS and the common cold, health experts believed that this new virus would have a low-degree of what’s called asymptomatic spread.


“If you and I were in a room together right now and you saw me with watery eyes, runny nose and coughing, you would notice stay away from me,” Adams said. “Unfortunately — and up to 50% of cases and sometimes even more in younger people — I could be spreading the disease and look just fine.”

That’s why federal health experts changed their recommendation for people to wear facemasks, after initially saying they weren’t needed. Some people who have coronavirus, don’t show any symptoms of the illness, but continue to spread it.

“I want people to know that we made the best recommendations we could back in February and in March based on what we knew about the virus and how every other virus like that had acted up until that point, Adams added. “When we found out this virus was different, we changed our recommendations. That’s how science works.”

He continued to urge Baltimoreans to wash their hands, watch their distance and wear a facemask to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Baltimore could reverse its status as a one of the nation’s hotspots for the virus, Adams said, noting Arizona’s decrease in cases and New York’s 1% positivity rate.

The state’s positivity rate drops below 4% for the first time since it spiked in the middle of the pandemic.

“We need to make this part of our culture. We need people to understand that these are health promoting tools. They’re freedom-promoting tools because we will have more choices and more places open if we lower community transmission,” Adams said of masks. “That’s a small inconvenience we’re gonna have to live with for the foreseeable future.”

Adams is a University of Maryland, Baltimore County graduate. 

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

CBS Baltimore Staff

  1. chrissfarmer says:

    We need a NATIONAL: MASK LAW until the medical experts say the disease is no longer a threat. They know now masks protect people and save lives.

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