Top White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has become a staunch advocate for the use of face masks as a method of reducing the spread of COVID-19.
When asked during a recent interview when he believes Americans might be able to forego masks in public, the National Institute of Allergies and Infection Disease director said that the practice should continue until the pandemic virus is “not a threat at all.”
Several factors in play
According to the Daily Caller, Fauci’s remarks came on Monday during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Special Report.
Of course, he had previously discouraged mask use early on in the pandemic until new evidence surfaced about the novel virus that indicated such prophylactic measures would be beneficial.
Now, he is suggesting that it will be the “late fall” of this year — if not later — before infection levels have dropped to a level he would deem safe to once again gather in public without masks.
Fauci told Fox News host Bret Baier that vaccinations will be a major factor in arriving at that determination.
The majority of the interview focused on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding safely reopening schools for in-person learning.
“If everything falls into the right place”
“Is there going to be a time when we are going to have no masks?” Baier asked. “When is that time? If you had to guess — going to a sports game, going to a theater, going to a concert without a mask?”
His guest replied: “That will really be dependent upon how we get the level of the virus in the community down.”
Fauci went on to stress that his advice should be interpreted as “an estimate” and “not definitive,” opining that “if we can get 70 to 85% of the population vaccinated, and get to what we would hope would be to a degree of herd immunity, which really is an umbrella or a veil of protection … where the level of virus is so low it’s not a threat at all, then at that point, you can start thinking in terms of not having to have a uniform wearing of masks.”
In any case, he made it clear that the nation is “certainly not near there yet,” predicting that “if everything falls into the right place and we get this under control, it is conceivable that you might be able to pull back a bit on some of the public health measures as we get into the late fall of this year.”
Fauci’s mask-related remarks have been seen by some critics as an attempt to move the goalposts, including advice last month that “it likely would be more effective” for people to wear double masks prior to acknowledging days later that “there’s no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference.”