Dr. Anthony Fauci this week said Americans are “misinterpreting” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on masks, stating it is “not” equivalent to the removal of mask mandates.
“I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It’s not,” Fauci said during an Axios virtual event.
Rather, Fauci described the CDC guidance as “an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors.”
“It’s not their fault,” Fauci continued. “People either read them quickly, or listen and hear half of it. They are feeling that we’re saying: ‘You don’t need the mask anymore.’ That’s not what the CDC said.”
“They said: If you are vaccinated, you can feel safe — that you will not get infected either outdoors or indoors,” he continued. “It did not explicitly say that unvaccinated people should abandon their masks.”
Fauci’s remarks follow his defense of businesses opting to keep sweeping mask mandates in place, because, according to the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, such entities are unable to confirm who is vaccinated and who is not, presenting a “problem.”
“The problem and the issue is that we don’t have any way of knowing who is vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated,” Fauci said during an appearance on Good Morning America.
“I think that’s where the confusion arises because there are some establishments who are saying, ‘Well, I’m going to have people coming into my establishment or my store or what have you. Some are going to be vaccinated, some are not. I’m not going to know the difference,’” he continued.
“Some might be infected and might actually have a risk of infecting someone else,” Fauci added. “And under those circumstances, it’s perfectly reasonable and understandable for the owner of that establishment to say, ‘You know, we’re going to keep the mask mandate up.’ And that’s what we’re seeing”:
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 18, 2021
Last week’s CDC guidance states that fully vaccinated people can “resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
Major retailers — including Target, Starbucks, and Walmart — have since lifted their hardline mask mandates, allowing vaccinated customers to forgo wearing a face covering. However, the companies are not asking for proof of vaccination, leading to Fauci’s apparent concerns.
Meanwhile, some state leaders have continued taking action to roll back coronavirus-related restrictions. On Tuesday, for example, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed an executive order barring localities from enforcing mask mandates.
“Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities,” Abbott said in a statement.
“We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up,” he added.