White House: CDC to recommend Americans cover faces when outside, Trump calls it 'voluntary'

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On Friday, President Donald Trump announced in a Coronavirus Task Force briefing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be advising that Americans wear non-medical, cloth-based coverings when in public.

President Trump stated that this was a voluntary measure and that he would not be covering his own face.

The face coverings could be a basic cloth or fabric mask, be purchased online or made at home, and can be easily washed and reused.

The president noted that medical protective gear, such as N95 masks, must be reserved for frontline medical workers.

During the briefing, a reporter asked President Trump as to why he did not want to wear a face mask. The president replied that he "didn't see it for himself."

Surgeon General Jerome Adams also provided suggestions for those who choose to wear a face mask, including washing your hands before putting on a face covering, as well as not touching your face while wearing the covering.

Adams reiterated that wearing face masks is not a substitute for social distancing.

RELATED: CoronavirusNOW.com, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates

Though some people already have begun acquiring or creating face masks on their own, the administration's new guidance could test the market's ability to accommodate a surge in demand. It was expected to be limited to people in areas of the country hit hard by the coronavirus, not nationwide, as some health experts had urged.

The new guidelines, to be announced Friday, will encourage people to use more rudimentary covering like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks. And President Donald Trump himself suggested scarves could be an good alternative to masks.

The new recommendations are set to be announced at a time when states are bracing for critical shortfalls like those that other parts of the world have experienced. They're scrambling to stockpile all manners of equipment.

RELATED: Flight change fee waivers, cancellations: This is how major airlines are reacting to COVID-19

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday he would use his authority to seize ventilators and protective gear from private hospitals and companies that aren’t using them.

Trump, who foreshadowed the coming guidance at a White House briefing on Thursday, sought to minimize any burden by stressing the recommendations would not amount to requirements.

Medical masks, particularly N95 respirators, are in short supply and are to be left for those on the front lines of fighting the spread of the infection.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.