Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, appeared to support the idea of “double-masking,” or wearing two masks at once, during a Monday appearance on TODAY, telling anchor Savannah Guthrie that it “just makes common sense that it would likely be more effective.”
“A lot of folks are hearing now about double-masking — wearing two masks or try[ing] to get one of those N95 medical-grade masks. Do you believe that’s advisable and makes a difference?” Guthrie asked the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director.
“You know, it likely does because I mean this is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in,” Fauci responded, appearing to condone the practice.
“So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it would likely be more effective and that’s the reason why you see people either double-masking or doing a version of an N95,” he added:
“We don't want to get complacent.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 25, 2021
Fauci’s seeming support of double-masking, a practice recently promoted by the New York Times, follows remarks he made early in the pandemic, dismissing the need for universal masking.
“Right now, people should not be walking, there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” he said in a 60 Minutes interview in March, suggesting that wearing a mask may provide more psychological relief than actual protection from the Wuhan virus.
“When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is,” Fauci said.
“And often, there are unintended consequences. People keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face,” he added:
Fauci has since reversed positions, telling Fox News in July that the U.S. “would be somewhat better off” if people had worn masks early on.
“I mean, you acted on the information you had at the time,” he explained.
Fauci has since urged Americans to mask up but removed his own during last week’s White House press briefing despite President Biden’s executive order requiring masks on federal property. Biden’s order contains limited exceptions, and agency heads must document them in writing and “require appropriate alternative safeguards, such as additional physical distancing measures, additional testing, or reconfiguration of workspace, consistent with applicable law.”
Guthrie also asked Fauci, who last year warned of a “dark time” in January, about the seven-day average showing about a 30 percent drop in coronavirus cases, with hospitalizations down in the U.S.
While Fauci said the vaccines are off to a good start, he attributed the decline to “natural peaking and plateauing.” He said the drop is not “significantly influenced” by the vaccine yet but expressed confidence that it will be “soon.”
“I just think it’s the natural course of plateauing. You know we see when you get off a holiday season, we were expecting that there may have been even more. Apparently not. We’re going to come down and stay there,” he said, adding that Americans cannot become complacent due to the prevalence of the U.K. variant in the U.S.
We cannot lose “the intensity of being able to use the public health measures to prevent the further spread,” Fauci added.