Fauci says indoor mask rules should begin to be relaxed

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that he thinks the United States can “start to be more liberal” in terms of relaxing indoor mask rules as more people are vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

>> Read more trending news

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Fauci answered a question about comments made by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who said that relaxing indoor mask mandates now with reports of COVID-19 cases decreasing would give health officials “the credibility to implement them” again should there be a surge in cases.

“The CDC will be, almost in real time, George, updating their recommendations and their guidelines,” said Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.

“But yes, we do need to start being more liberal as we get more people vaccinated.”

More than 114 million people have been fully vaccinated as of Monday morning, with 38 million more people having received their first dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer two-dose vaccine, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Fauci’s comments came two days after the CDC updated its guidance about how the coronavirus spreads, saying that people could inhale the virus even when they are more than six feet away from an infected person.

The agency had maintained that most people were infected through “close contact, not airborne transmission.”

Fauci added that the United States should be back to normal by next Mother’s Day if Americans continue to get vaccinated.

“I hope that next Mother’s Day, we’re going to see a dramatic difference than what we’re seeing right now,” he said. “I believe that we will be about as close to back to normal as we can.”

Fauci also said that some people may decide to wear masks during certain seasons when respiratory illnesses are more prevalent.

“I think people have gotten used to the fact that wearing masks,” Fauci said. “Clearly if you look at the data it (wearing masks) diminishes respiratory diseases, we’ve had practically a non-existent flu season this year merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominately against Covid-19,” Fauci said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

“So it is conceivable that as we go on a year or two or more from now that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you’ll spread these respiratory borne diseases,” he added.

Gottlieb, who appeared later Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said limits on outdoor gatherings should be relaxed, as well.

“Certainly outdoors, we shouldn’t be putting limits on gatherings anymore,” Gottlieb said.