Dr. Fauci: Prepare to Wear Masks for “Several, Several Months”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s chief medical adviser, is telling American citizens to prepare for several more months of mask-wearing.

Fauci appeared Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and answered questions from George Stephanopoulos. His five-minute segment opened with a discussion on vaccine rollout, with Fauci mentioning that “vaccine open season” could begin in April and continue through July.

The mask remarks came toward the end of the segment, after discussing school re-openings and the gradual relaxation of restrictions. George asked the following question: “When you say need for masks, you mean for quite some time—into the foreseeable future—a year, two years, three years?”

Fauci replied: “I’m not so sure it’s measured in years, George, but I think until we get the level of virus to such a low level in the community, and I had said a projection—and it’s only a projection—that hopefully by the time we get all the people vaccinated, let’s say 70-85 percent of the people vaccinated, the level of virus in the community could be so low that you could start pulling back a bit on what are stringent public health measures. You don’t want to do it all at once, but I think we’re going to be wearing masks for several, several months into the future.”

Essentially he’s saying that mask mandates can be relaxed once we reach herd immunity, which is slated to happen sometime in late 2021. By that point the overwhelming majority of people will have had SARS-CoV-2—the virus that can cause the COVID-19 disease—through infection and/or vaccination.

SARS-CoV-2 will likely stick around with us forever, though scientists and doctors are hoping that mass vaccinations and mutating variants will lead to a significant weakening of the virus. Hopefully it becomes weak to the point where we don’t even think twice about it, just like influenza. But with our collective memory of the pandemic and the severity of our response, that may be too much to ask from society.

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