CLAIM: Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden indicated during the first presidential debate on Tuesday that Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has always supported everyone wearing a mask to stem the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.
VERDICT: False. Fauci himself has acknowledged changing his position on the importance of everyone wearing masks to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Early during the pandemic, Fauci, who also serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and other public health officials advised people who were not in the medical field against wearing masks. However, later, in July, Fauci told Fox News the U.S. “would have been somewhat better off” if everyone had been wearing masks from the beginning of the pandemic.
Echoing other health officials, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has also been pushing for everyone to wear a mask in recent months.
On Tuesday, Fox News’s Chris Wallace, the debate moderator, asked President Donald Trump and Biden whether they thought masks were a useful tool against the virus.
Biden responded by saying members of Trump’s own administration have indicated that “masks make a big difference” and save lives.
“And they’ve also said the opposite,” Trump pointed out.
“No serious person said the opposite,” Biden retorted.
“Dr. Fauci said the opposite,” the president accurately noted, later adding, “He said very strongly masks are not good. Then he changed his mind and said masks are good.”
“He did not say the opposite,” the former vice president stressed.
Trump said he thinks masks are effective against the virus.
“I have a mask right here,” he continued. “I put a mask on when I think I need it.”
Moreover, Biden wrongly claimed that the CDC director recently said, “If everybody wore a mask and social distanced between now and January, we’d probably save up to 100,000 lives.”
Nevertheless, even the left-leaning FactCheck.org conceded earlier this month that the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) made that projection, not the CDC chief.