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On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that federal guidance on indoor mask-wearing might be modified sooner rather than later, CNN reports.
When ABC News asked Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, if it was time to reconsider mask mandates for indoor activities, he said, “I think so, and I think you’re going to probably be seeing that as we go along, and as more people get vaccinated.”
Fauci also noted that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue to update its mask-requirement guidance “almost in real time” as increasing numbers of Americans receive the vaccine.
Last month, the CDC altered its guidelines for use of masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks outside, so long as the area isn’t crowded. The CDC also said that masks need not be worn indoors if everyone in the group is two weeks past his or her final vaccine dose (after the first shot of Johnson & Johnson or the second of Pfizer or Moderna); no social distancing is required among those who are fully vaccinated either.
“We do need to start being more liberal, as we get more people vaccinated,” Fauci said.
Fauci’s response followed a question about comments made by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration. Last week on CNBC, Gottlieb said that loosening indoor mask requirements now will make it easier for public health officials to reinstate them in the case of potential fall or winter surges.
Although vaccinated and unvaccinated people are currently advised to wear masks indoors in public places, those guidelines aren’t being observed in many areas of the country.
According to The New York Times, more than 112 million Americans are fully vaccinated, and 40 million have received the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna.