Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has finally started to encourage people to wear masks, even while not wearing one himself. Meanwhile, his son Donald Trump Jr. is actively spreading doubt about the effectiveness of masks against the coronavirus.
Fact-checking a dangerous mask meme shared by Trump Jr. on Facebook
On Facebook, Trump Jr. posted an image of a lab where scientists were working in certain hazmat suits known as positive pressure suits. Text on the image says, “This is what virologist wear to protect themselves from a virus. Don’t worry, though. Your bandana probably works too.”
The image is from 2017 and was taken at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province.
In posting the image, Trump Jr. wrote, “Solid point.” The post has received more than 40,000 shares and over 69,000 reactions on Facebook.
Facts First: It is false, and dangerous, to suggest that masks and face coverings don’t help prevent the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, which has killed more than 517,000 people since China reported its first cases to the World Health Organization in December.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, the coronavirus spreads “Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks” and “These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.”
The primary reason for wearing a face mask is to prevent personal droplets from spreading to others.
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University, in a study published in the journal Physics of Fluids on Tuesday, found that bandanas reduced the average distance that coughs traveled from 8 feet to 3.6 feet. A folded handkerchief took that distance down to 1.25 feet. Commercial cone masks reduced the distance to 8 inches, and a two-layer, stitched mask to 2.5 inches.
Pointing to a 2017 picture of researchers wearing positive pressure suits while studying various viruses in no way disproves or casts doubt on how masks and face coverings can help the average person prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In going against CDC-recommended guidelines — which the administration continually points back to — Trump Jr. appears to be attempting to cast conspiratorial doubt on a measure that can save lives.
On Tuesday, however, Trump Jr. also told Fox Business, “I don’t think that it’s too complicated to wear a mask or wash your hands and follow basic hygiene protocols.”
Update: This story has been updated to include recent comments Trump Jr. made to Fox Business about wearing masks.