Fauci: ‘Prudent’ for Vaccinated People to Wear Masks in Congregate Settings

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It is “prudent” for fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks in congregate settings throughout the holiday season, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday, ignoring that vaccines were originally pitched as a way for Americans to get back to a maskless state of pre-pandemic normalcy.

A reporter asked Fauci on Wednesday if Americans should consider it safe to go to holiday gatherings, such as a cocktail party, without a mask on, even if they are fully vaccinated.

“Well, the advice is — what I follow myself and what I tell people to do is that: Get vaccinated,” Fauci began, urging the vaccinated to “get boosted” as well.

However, he failed to give Americans an all-clear to forgo the masks in all situations, even if they are fully vaccinated.

“And in a situation with the — the holiday season, indoor-type settings with family that you know was vaccinated, people that you know, you could feel safe with not wearing a mask and having a dinner or having a reception,” he said.

Neil Hansen loads his plate as the rest of the family, including eight kids, enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at their home in Lawrence, Kan., Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Neil Hansen loads his plate as the rest of the family, including eight kids, enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at their home in Lawrence, Kan., Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

“But when you are in a public congregate setting in which you do not know the status of the vaccination of the people involved, it is very prudent to wear a mask. And that’s what I do,” Fauci explained, telling people to “take the mask down” when eating or drinking.

“But to the — to the extent possible, keep it on when you’re in an indoor congregate setting,” he added.

Family sitting at the Christmas Thanksgiving table at home in the year of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Grandmother adjust the surgical mask to her grandson. New rules, Covid outbreak, lockdown.

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Fauci, who prior to the pandemic described masking as a “paranoid” tool and, early in the pandemic, admitted drug store masks were “not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material,” has continued to move the goalposts over the course of the year, particularly with masking and vaccinations.

Originally, vaccines were widely pitched as the way for Americans to go back to a state of pre-pandemic normalcy — a time without lockdowns, social distancing, and frequent masking. Yet, even with the widespread availability of vaccines, public health officials continue to promote restrictions, including masking.

During that same press conference, in which Fauci repeatedly urged people to get vaccinated, he admitted that the definition of fully vaccinated “could change” to apply only to those who also received a booster shot.

“Well, I don’t know,” he said when asked if he would recommend a change. “Let’s see what rolls out now.  I mean, I know if I say it’s going to change, it’s going to get spread out — that that’s it. We don’t know right now whether it should change, but it might.”

Notably, Fauci took questions after briefly detailing the first case of the omicron variant in the U.S. While he pitched vaccination as the best way to fight the virus, the variant infected a fully vaccinated individual — a fact unmentioned in the statement from White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.

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