During a press conference on Saturday, Feb. 29, Vice President Mike Pence, who was appointed to lead the administration’s response to the coronavirus said that there is no need for “average people” in the United States to buy masks for the new coronavirus. 

“The president mentioned masks,” Pence said. “This morning we talked a great deal about additional medical supplies. Let me be very clear, and I’m sure the physicians who are up here will reflect on his as well: The average American does not need to go out and buy a mask.” 

Pence said the United States is contracting with 3M and other mask manufactures to create 35 million more masks each month. He also said the task force is working to develop a course of action that would increase the available ability of masks and prioritize masks for the use of high-risk health care professionals. 

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams also urged people to “stop buying masks,” saying they are “NOT effective” to the general public.

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!” he tweeted. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

The warnings from the vice president and the surgeon general came as masks and other supplies have began to run out from some cities due to fears of a potential outbreak in the United States. There are 64 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country so far and four are believed to be cases of community spread. Washington state confirmed the first death from the COVID-19 virus. 

The CDC also said that wearing a face mask is not necessarily an effective option for everyone. It only recommends masks for select groups of people: those who experience flu-like symptoms, health care workers treating patients exposed to the coronavirus, and those in a region currently experiencing an outbreak.

For the rest of us, CDC recommends preventative measures, which are probably more effective than wearing a mask, including staying away from sick individuals, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding touching your face.