Fauci says face masks could become seasonal after Covid pandemic

  • White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that people may wear masks during certain seasons when respiratory illnesses are more prevalent.
  • "We've had practically a non-existent flu season this year […],"Fauci said.
  • His comments come less than a month after the Biden administration announced a relaxation of federal guidance on wearing masks outdoors.

WASHINGTON — White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that people may decide to wear masks during certain seasons when respiratory illnesses are more prevalent.

"I think people have gotten used to the fact that wearing masks, clearly if you look at the data it 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 predominately against Covid-19," Fauci said during an interview on NBC Sunday program "Meet the Press."

"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," he added.

Fauci's comments come less than a month after the Biden administration announced a relaxation of federal public health guidance on wearing masks outdoors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that fully vaccinated people can exercise and attend small gatherings outside without wearing a face mask. The agency still recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask outdoors when in crowded areas.

"We are at the point right now where we can and start lifting these ordinances and allowing people to resume normal activity. Certainly, outdoors, we should not be putting limits on gatherings anymore and we should be encouraging people to go outside," Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS Sunday program "Face the Nation."

Gottlieb added that indoor public health measures should also be relaxed in states where coronavirus infections are low and vaccination rates are high.

"Covid won't disappear, we are going to have to learn to live with it but the risks have substantially reduced as a result of vaccination and as a result of immunity that people have acquired through prior infection," Gottlieb said.

As of Saturday, more than 45% of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose, including 33.9% who have been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus and biotech company Illumina. Pfizer has a manufacturing agreement with Gilead for remdesivir. Gottlieb also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings′ and Royal Caribbean's "Healthy Sail Panel."

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