Dr. Anthony Fauci said he agrees with loosening up guidance on wearing masks indoors as more Americans become vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“We do need to start being more liberal as we get more people vaccinated,” Fauci said on Sunday.
“As you get more people vaccinated, the number of cases will absolutely go down,” he went on.
But the president’s chief medical adviser said the U.S. needed to get daily cases “much, much lower” than its current 43,000 a day.
“When that gets lower, the risk of any infection indoor or outdoor diminishes dramatically,” he told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”
The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 45.8% of the population of the U.S. has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 34.4% of the total population is fully vaccinated.
The CDC still recommends wearing masks in circumstances such as indoor dining in restaurants, except when in the process of eating or drinking.
Fauci was asked about the CDC’s guidance on wearing masks in response to some critics like former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb, who said on CNBC that restrictions should be lifted “as aggressively as we put them in.”
Gottlieb told host Shepard Smith on Thursday that lifting the restrictions would build trust if there are more outbreaks in winter and restrictions have to be re-implemented.
“I think the only way to turn public credibility is to demonstrate that you’re willing to relax these provisions when a situation improves,” Gottlieb said.
“That’s what gives you the credibility to implement them when things worsen.”
Fauci told Stephanopoulos on Sunday he believed the CDC would update its guidelines as more people are vaccinated.
“The CDC will be, almost in real time, George, updating their recommendations and their guidelines,” he said.
Fauci told the host the country should work to convince people reluctant to get one of the available shots by using “trusted messengers” such as sports and entertainment figures to promote the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Also, the increasing ease of getting the vaccine should help, he said, with 40,000 pharmacies now offering walk-in vaccinations and mobile units set to offer shots as well.