Dr. Anthony Fauci
addressed some of the reactions to the relaxed COVID-19
mask guidance on Thursday, saying that many Americans are pushing the limits of what is safe.
“Unfortunately, some people
interpreted [the new rules] as allowing everyone to remove their mask, which is not the case,” said Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, of the loosening of restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
announced last week that fully vaccinated people could no longer wear masks
inside most places (but not in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless
“We’re clarifying that now, and I believe we’re on the right track,” he said from Children
’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he was visiting a vaccine
clinic with first lady Jill Biden
, according to a White House
“The guidance shifts all of the burden onto individuals to be ‘on their honor,’” Lisa Maragakis, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told The Washington Post
Only 48% of people in the United States are fully vaccinated, and those who do not intend to get immunized are likely to follow the rules for vaccinated people, putting those who are immunocompromised at risk.
A recent Economist/YouGov poll found that 63% of Americans who said they didn't plan to get vaccinated already felt "somewhat" safe gathering indoors without a mask alongside other unvaccinated, unmasked people.
Fauci and other public health
leaders have also fought off Republican
lawmakers' claims that the updated guidance was politically motivated, citing gas shortages, violence in Gaza
, and border
security as examples.
Last weekend on Fox News
, Fauci and CDC
Director Rochelle Walensky
stated that the decision to relax mask guidance was supported by science
and came after a sharp drop in new COVID-19 cases.
“The cases came down over the last two weeks, and so that’s — I delivered it as soon as we had that information available,” Walensky explained, citing two supporting studies.