Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would not definitively state when Americans can stop wearing masks, contending it is “difficult” to say until “we get a large enough percentage of the population vaccinated.”
Walensky on Thursday responded to questions posed on Twitter as part of the White House COVID-19 Response Team’s social media Q&A.
One user, who identified as fully vaccinated, asked the team if it was safe to travel on public transportation without a mask, adding, “how long do we need to mask?”
Walensky responded to the question on her official Twitter account, congratulating the individual on being fully vaccinated but failing to say when officials will no longer recommend universal masking.
“Congratulations on being fully vaccinated! You should always wear a mask over your nose & mouth when in public settings, incl. public transportation,” she said.
“Until we get a large enough percentage of the population vaccinated, it would be difficult to say when we can stop wearing a mask,” Walensky added, failing to specify when masks will no longer be required or recommended:
Congratulations on being fully vaccinated! You should always wear a mask over your nose & mouth when in public settings, incl. public transportation. Until we get a large enough percentage of the population vaccinated, it would be difficult to say when we can stop wearing a mask. https://t.co/GYOBBdbSAx
— Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH (@CDCDirector) April 22, 2021
The news comes as CDC considers revising its current mask guidance.
“We’ll be looking at the outdoor masking question, but also in the context of the fact that we still have people who are dying of Covid-19,” Walensky said.
Current CDC guidance advises people to wear masks “in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart, especially when indoors around people who don’t live in your household” and adds that masks “may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with people who live in your household.”
In February, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said it is “possible” that Americans will still be wearing masks into 2022.
“I want to see it go way down,” Fauci said of virus levels. “When it goes way down, and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable saying we need to pull back on the masks. We don’t need to have masks.”
According to the CDC’s April 22 data, 26.9 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated.