Speaking to NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, warned about “prematurely” dropping mask mandates after Washington, D.C. lifted requirements on indoor masking, saying the move “adds an extra degree of risk” as the nation contends with rising cases of Covid-19.
“When you have a dynamic like that … you really gotta be careful,” he said. “Masks are not going to be forever for sure. The more people that get vaccinated, the more people that get boosted, the lower the level of infection in the community will be, and then you start thinking about pulling back on masks.”
“But you don’t want to do it prematurely,” he added. “As much as you’d like to do it, you’ve got to be careful.”
Fauci acknowledged that it’s “tough to predict” when mask mandates can end but noted that the availability of vaccines for 28 million children aged 5 to 11 nationally will help the United States overcome the pandemic.
“If we do a good job in getting the overwhelming majority of that cohort vaccinated, we very well may have a situation where the cases go down and we can say no masks,” he said. “I hope that that’s as we get through the winter and into the spring.”
Covid-19 deaths in the United States in 2021 have already surpassed last year’s toll, according to the latest available data from Johns Hopkins University.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.