Washington DC: The United States recorded nearly 1,500 deaths from COVID-19 between Thursday and Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, the worst 24-hour death toll globally since the pandemic began.

With 1,480 deaths counted between 8:30 pm(0030 GMT) on Thursday and the same time Friday, according to the university's continuously updated figures, the total number of people who have died since the start of the pandemic in the United States is now 7,406.

President Donald Trump on Friday recommended that Americans cover their faces with masks when outdoors, a policy U-turn following growing scientific research suggesting their widespread use can stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Citing the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Trump urged people to wear face coverings like scarves or homemade cloth
masks, but to keep medical-grade masks available for the health workers.

"It's going to be really a voluntary thing," he underlined. "You don't have to do it and I'm choosing not to do it, but some people may want
to do it and that's okay."

Trump said he would not be wearing one "as I greet Presidents, Prime Ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, it somehow, I don't
see it for myself."

"The CDC is not recommending the use of medical-grade or surgical-grade masks. Those needs to be used for medical people working to save the lives of Americans. Medical protective gear must be reserved for the front-line healthcare workers who are performing those vital services," he said.

CDC has recommended that Americans wear basic cloth or fabric masks that can be either purchased online or simply made at home.

Speaking to Fox News on Friday, Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, cited "recent information that the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing."

Days earlier, the CDC's Robert Redfield said up to a quarter of people who are infected may be asymptomatic.

Taken together, the developments represent powerful arguments in favour of the widespread use of facial coverings.