ORLANDO, Fla. – Even with vaccination efforts well underway, it’s possible that Americans won’t be able to ditch the masks anytime soon.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Nation” Sunday and said while it’s hard to predict how the coronavirus pandemic will play out, it’s possible that face masks will still be necessary in 2022.
“You know, because it depends on the level, and the level of of dynamics of virus that’s in the community and that’s really important, because that gets back to something again that you said, 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. No, it’ll never be zero, but a minimal, minimal threat that you will be exposed to someone who is infected,” Fauci said.
He added that once the country reaches a point where most people are vaccinated and the level of the virus in the community is minimal then there could be the potential to do away with mask mandates.
“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,” Fauci said.
He shied away from providing predictions or concrete timelines that could soon prove to be false. He reiterated the uncertainty of the situation.
“We don’t know and, you know, the president said it very, very well ... he said, ‘You know you asked me to make projections. These are just projections that are estimates, and a lot of things can happen to modify that,’ and that’s the reason why we’ve 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.
Still, he does believe there could be some improvements later this year, though he couldn’t define what “normal” may look like.
“Obviously I think we’re gonna have a significant degree of normality beyond what the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year 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. 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,” Fauci said.
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