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President Trump on Wednesday evening pushed back against comments made earlier in the day by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, who called face masks "the most important, powerful public health tool we have" to fight against the coronavirus.
While testifying before a Senate panel, Redfield said if masks are embraced by "all Americans," it could bring the pandemic, which has killed nearly 200,000 Americans, "under control." He added that he "might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine. Because the immunogenicity may be 70 percent, and if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will."
During a press conference at the White House, Trump claimed that Redfield "made a mistake" when he discussed the importance of wearing a mask. Face coverings, Trump said, must be "handled very gently, very carefully," and "have problems, too."
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He also said incorrectly that the CDC director must have been confused when he told the Senate panel a coronavirus vaccine likely won't be widely available until 2021. Trump said the vaccine may be ready "by mid-October," and "under no circumstance would [it] be as late as the doctor said."