Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said Sunday he was open to relaxing indoor masking rules as more Americans are being vaccinated against the virus just two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention belated the risk of airborne transmission had emphasized.
Dr. Fauci, President Biden's senior medical advisor on the pandemic, said that as vaccinations rise, vaccinations need to "become more liberal" on the rules for wearing masks indoors, despite noting the nation still averaging 43,000 Cases of the virus had daily. "We have to do it much, much lower," he said.
On Friday the C.D.C. updated its guidance on the spread of the coronavirus, specifically stating that humans can breathe airborne viruses even if they are more than three feet from an infected person. The agency had previously said that most infections were acquired through "close contact, not airborne transmission".
The update brought the agency in line with evidence of the risk of airborne droplets found by epidemiologists over the course of the pandemic last year, and also underscored the urgency of the federal agency for occupational health and safety, according to some experts Standards for employers issues to address potential airborne hazards in the workplace.
Dr. Fauci's comments on Sunday came in response to a question on comments Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, turned in to CNBC last week. He said that relaxing the mandates on indoor masks now – "especially in settings where you know you have high levels of vaccination" – would give public health officials "the credibility to go again in the fall or winter “When the cases increase again.
Dr. Fauci, when asked if he would agree by George Stephanopoulos on the ABC Sunday program “This Week”, said, “I think so, and I think you will probably see that as we join in and when more people are vaccinated. ”
"The C.D.C. George will update their recommendations and guidelines in almost real time," continued Dr. Fauci, "but yes, we need to become more liberal as more people are vaccinated."
Over a third of the US population – more than 112 million people – is fully vaccinated, and another 40 million people have received the first dose of a two-dose protocol.
The C.D.C., which issues national guidelines on masking, says even vaccinated people should continue to wear masks in indoor public spaces, including restaurants, when they are not actively eating and drinking. In many places in the country it is clear that the guidelines are not being followed.
In a separate interview on Sunday via CNN's State of the Union, Jeffrey Zients, Mr Biden's Covid response coordinator, was a little more prudent than Dr. Fauci, when he was named after Dr. Gottlieb's comments was asked.
"I think everyone is tired and wearing a mask is – it can be a pain," said Mr. Zients. "But we get there. And the light at the end of the tunnel is always brighter. Let us be on our guard. Let's follow the CDC guidance. And the CDC With the timing guidance, vaccinated people can get more and more privileges to remove this mask." "
Mr. Zients also suggested that instead of achieving herd immunity – the point at which enough people are immune to the virus that is no longer able to spread through the population – the goal should be to achieve a sense of normalcy by 70 percent of Americans are vaccinated. President Biden has called for 70 percent to receive at least one dose by July 4th.
Reaching 70 percent will "create a pattern of decreasing cases, hospitalizations and deaths and bring us to sustained low levels," Zients said, citing Israel, a world leader in vaccinations, as a model.
In that country, vaccinations have reached nearly 60 percent of the population since it began December 19 last year, and the 7-day average of new cases has fallen from a high of more than 8,600 on January 17 to less than 60 by Saturday.