Dr. Fauci Said CDC Mask Guidance Should Be More “Liberal”

"fogarty-nih-50th-symposium-speaker-anthony-fauci" (United States government work) by Fogarty International Center

Dr. Anthony Fauci, former FDA commissioner, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb suggested that it is time to ease the mask guidelines indoors now that over one-third of adults in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against Coronavirus.

CDC could start easing COVID-19 indoor mask guidance after the seven-day average for new Coronavirus infections are substantially down compared to the winter-time peaks.

Last month, the CDC gave an updated mask guidance last month, advising that those who are fully vaccinated can now go without masks outdoors except in crowded settings. However, the CDC maintained that fully vaccinated people should still wear masks indoors, particulary if they come from multiple households. Masks should also be worn in indoor public settings such as malls, movie theaters, museums, and restaurants.

In addition to the updated guidance, the agency also published a brief showing how small droplets with virus can travel for more than six fix under certain conditions, which can pose a risk for infection. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Gottlieb suggested that is now time to ease the mask guidance indoors. 

“P20210121CW-0240” (United States government work) by The White House

On Sunday’s ABC’s interview, Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and chief medical adviser to Biden, said that he believes Gottlieb is correct in stating that the country should see a shift in indoor mask guidance. Fauci added that the guidance should be more “liberal” as the COVID-19 vaccination drive continues.

Fauci told, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “No I think so, I think you’re going to probably see that as we go along and as more people get vaccinated.” Fauci continued, “The CDC will be, almost in real-time George, updating their recommendations and their guidelines. We do need to start being more liberal as we get more people vaccinated.”

Fauci also added as the country get more people vaccinated, the number of COVID-19 cases every day will absolutely go down. He said, “We’re averaging about 43,000 a day, we’ve got to get it much, much lower than that. When that gets lower, the risk of any infection indoor or outdoor diminishes dramatically,” 

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with NBC, Fauci suggested that people should still put on masks seasonally to reduce the level of flu. 

Fauci said, “It is conceivable that as we go on a year or two or more from now, that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you’ll spread these respiratory borne diseases.”

Although Dr. Fauci is suggesting a more “liberal” approach the COVID-19 response coordinator of the White House, Jeffrey Zients was more conservative in his response. 

In an interiview with CNN on Sunday, host Jake Tapper mentioned the growing frustrations among “journalists and some health experts.” Tapper said that “overly cautious” mask guidance could undermine confidence in “a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Zients answered, “I think everyone is tired, and wearing a mask can be a pain but we’re getting there and the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter and brighter.” He continued, “Let’s keep up our guard, let’s follow the CDC guidance. And the CDC guidance across time will allow vaccinated people more and more privileges to take off that mask.”

“Commissioner Gottlieb, National Press Club” (United States government work) by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration

On the other hand, Gottlieb said in an interview with CBS last Sunday that the vaccinations and immunity from before COVID-19 infection will “substantially” slow down risks of COVID-19.

Gottlieb continued, “We’re at the point right now where we can start lifting these ordinances and allowing people to resume normal activity, certainly outdoors we shouldn’t be putting limits on gatherings anymore, we should be encouraging people to go outside.”

He also noted that in the states where prevalence is low, vaccination rates are high, there are good testing in place and infections are being identified. He said, “I think we can start lifting these restrictions indoors as well on a broad basis.”