Anyone planning a “burn-the-masks” party might want to hold off a while, perhaps as much as a year, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a White House counselor to President Joe Biden, made his comments during an appearance on the CNN show “State of the Union.”
Host Dana Bash asked Fauci whether Americans will be wearing masks in 2022.
“You know, I think it is possible that that’s the case,” he said.
“I mean, obviously, I think we’re going to have a significant degree of normality beyond what the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year, that, as we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with the president completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality,” Fauci said.
“It may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019, but it’ll be much, much better than what we’re doing right now,” he said.
Fauci hedged when asked to explain his timetable, saying, “It depends on the level of dynamics of virus that’s in the community.”
He said getting rid of masks could only come after the virus has lost most of its punch.
Do you expect to be wearing a mask in 2022?
“If you see the level coming down really, really very low, I want it to keep going down to a baseline that’s so low that there’s virtually no threat — or not no, it’ll never be zero, but a minimal, minimal threat that you will be exposed to someone who is infected,” Fauci said.
“So if you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe you’re going to be able to say, you know, for the most part, we don’t necessarily have to wear masks,” he said.
“But if we have a level of virus that is at that level that it was months and months ago — like, 20,000 per day is a heck of a lot better than what it’s been, but that’s still a very high level of virus in the community,” Fauci said.
“I want to see it go way down. When it goes way down, and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable in saying, you know, we need to pull back on the masks, we don’t need to have masks.”
“So, your timeline is taking us out a year, maybe two years, maybe even longer,” Bash replied.
Fauci would not rule that out but said he would not be precise.
“And a lot of things can happen to modify that. And that’s the reason why we have got to be careful, because you have variants that you need to deal with. There are so many other things that would make a projection that I give you today, on this Sunday, wind up not being the case six months from now,” he said.
Earlier in the interview, Fauci noted that his personal standard has been to shun his family, other than his wife.
“I mean, I would look forward to it within a reasonable period of time as the rest of my family gets vaccinated,” he said.
“But my children, when they get vaccinated, obviously, I look forward to seeing them,” Fauci said. “And I’m sure that, by that time, recommendations will come out to guide us in a more precise way,” he said.
Last week, Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said darker days are ahead because of variants in the virus, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
“I think right now what we’re seeing is basically the lull before the storm,” he said.
“I liken it in a sense to — imagine we’re all sitting on this beautiful sand beach on the gulf somewhere,” Osterholm said. “Blue skies, temperature of 80 degrees, slight breeze, not a cloud in the sky. And we’re trying to tell people, ‘Get ready to evacuate.’ Everyone is saying, ‘Why? this makes no sense.’
“But we can see that Category 5 hurricane 400 miles south of the beach heading straight towards the beach. And that’s what these variants represent right now.”
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