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WASHINGTON–Know your risk and wear a mask. That’s just some of the advice one of the nation’s top health experts in the U.S. is giving you, so you can stay safe over the Independence Day weekend.

U.S. Surgeon General and former Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams joined NBC’s The Today Show Friday and put a particular emphasis on the safety of young people.

“Many of the new coronavirus cases are being spread in much younger people, which is why we are now encouraging everyone to wear a face-covering/mask,” said Adams. “It’s important for people to understand that we now know that 40-50% of coronavirus cases spread asymptomatically. That’s different than any other coronavirus we have experienced before.”

While he supports some local governments’ decisions to issue mandates requiring people to wear masks, he says making them mandatory poses a bigger challenge.

“If people understand why they’re doing it, they’re going to be more likely to comply. If it’s mandatory, they’ll only do it when someone is watching. While I’m not against anyone who has a mandate, I think the most important thing from a health communications point-of-view is helping people understand how they benefit and why they should do this,” said Adams.

Adams says many young people will rebel if you make them mandatory and do the exact opposite. He understands many people will be attending large gatherings this weekend because of the holiday.

“The CDC says larger gatherings are a higher risk. You have to take measures to stay safe. If you do go out to a gathering in the public, please wear a mask or face covering,” says Adams. “If you want college football in the fall, please wear a face covering. If you want prom next year, please wear a face covering. It can help prevent asymptomatic spread and overcome this virus.”

He also advises you to practice social distancing at all times.

Only 12 states have managed to keep new infections from rising. Others have taken action by closing bars, restaurants, beaches, rivers, and lakes. The state of Indiana is in stage 4.5 of its coronavirus reopening plan.

Four counties in Indiana have issued mandates requiring people to wear masks when they are out in public. Marion County begins its mask mandate July 9. The other three counties are Elkhart, LaGrange, and St. Joseph.