With COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy on the rise—and more than 40% of the USA fully vaccinated—many are wondering what can sweeten the deal: Can we stop wearing masks indoors, for example, once vaccinated? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on Meet the Press with host Chuck Todd to discuss just that. Read on for 5 pieces of essential advice that can save your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It.
Dr. Fauci Said Soon—Not Now, But One Day—You May Be Able to Take Your Mask Off Indoors
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, has said we should be able to take our masks off indoors if we're vaccinated. Dr. Fauci said that may be true—soon, though not yet. "I think so," he said, when asked if Gottlieb was right. "And I think you're going to probably see that as we go along and as more people get vaccinated, the CDC will be almost in real time [be] updating their recommendations and their guidelines. But yes, we do need to start being more liberal as we get more people vaccinated. As you get more people vaccinated, the number of cases per day will absolutely go down. 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."
Dr. Fauci Says Right Now, Wear a Mask Indoors—Here's Why
The CDC announced this week that COVID-19 spreads in the air. "I had to check the date of the article to make sure it wasn't from a year earlier, this felt like a known thing," said Todd. "So now that there is a formal acknowledgment now of aerosol transmission, what does this mean for workplaces? What does this mean for schools, homes, things like this, if we're going to have to live with this virus for another year or so?"
"Well, I mean, as you mentioned, Chuck correctly, this is something we've known for some time now," said Dr. Fauci. "So when you have aerosol, then the distance between people becomes a little bit more problematic because generally when you say you have a certain distance that the droplets will fall and not reach a person. So right now this is going to have an emphasis on proper ventilation, because if there is aerosolization, you're going to want to have good ventilation—that could hold true for schools that it could hold true for workplaces. The other thing, it also brings out the possibility that you're going to have to make sure that indoors, when you have unvaccinated people, that people wear a mask, but that is already a CDC recommendation anyway. But when you have the ability of a particular virus to go further than just a few feet, clearly one of the most important things is proper ventilation and number two, mask wearing."
Dr. Fauci Said Wearing a Mask May be Seasonal
Wearing a mask during certain seasons—"that's quite possible," said Dr. Fauci. "I think people have gotten used to the fact that wearing masks. Clearly, if you look at the data, [a mask] diminishes respiratory diseases—we've had practically a non-existent flu season this year, merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominantly against COVID-19. The Australians, during their winter, same thing. They had almost no flu, largely due to the kinds of things, including mask wearing. So 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."
Dr. Fauci Said When We Might Return to Normal
"The fact that we have vaccines right now is really a game changer," said Dr. Fauci. "If we get…70% of the people vaccinated by the 4th of July, namely one single dose, and even more thereafter, you may see blips, but if we handle them well—it is unlikely that you'll see the kind of surge that we saw in the late fall and the early winter. That's the reason why we plead with people to get vaccinated because the larger proportion of the population that's vaccinated, the less likelihood that in a season like the coming for the winter, you're going to see a significant surge. There's no doubt about that. That's the reason why vaccinations are so important. That's the wild card that we have now that we didn't have last fall or last winter."
How to Stay Safe During This Pandemic
Follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.