Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted that the public is confused about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance allowing vaccinated Americans to go mask-free in most places — saying people aren’t reading the advice carefully enough.
“I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It’s not,” he said in an interview with Axios Wednesday. “It’s an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors.”
The nation’s top infectious disease expert said many people erroneously believe that everyone is free to ditch the face covers because they didn’t read the new advice properly.
“It’s not their fault,” he told the outlet. “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. It did not explicitly say that unvaccinated people should abandon their masks,” he continued.
The CDC suddenly announced last week that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely stop wearing masks and social distancing in most circumstances, but advised the unvaccinated to keep doing so.
But the agency came under fire for its roll-out of the new rules.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly blasted federal officials for blindsiding him and other governors with the massive policy shift. And former Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said earlier this week that the CDC “fumbled” the messaging.
Many states, including New York, adopted the new guidance and major retail chains including Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Target have started allowing fully jabbed customers to go mask-free.
But some public-health experts now fear that lack of clarity over the rules could endanger unvaccinated people.