Dr. Fauci Says the CDC Will Revise These Guidelines Very Soon

The infectious disease expert said new advice is coming soon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on May 13 that it's no longer necessary for vaccinated people to wear masks or social distance outdoors or indoors, a decision people across the U.S. have been debating ever since. Almost immediately after the CDC's announcement, questions abounded about the new guidance. On top of the obvious—Why did this change happen so quickly?—many asked, What about schools? Or how will essential workers confirm people are vaccinated? Then, on May 16, White House chief COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, gave an important update about some of those answers.

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Speaking to John Dickerson on CBS's Face the Nation on May 16, Fauci said the CDC will soon revise its mask guidelines to further detail how to handle face coverings in certain situations. When Dickerson asked whether or not there could've been a better way of approaching the shocking change in mask guidance, Fauci explained the CDC will soon be offering more situation-specific guidelines.

"What they'll be doing now is coming out very quickly with individual types of guidance. So people will say, 'Well, what about the workplace? What about this? What about that?' And I think that's going to be clarified pretty quickly," Fauci said during the interview. He suspects the CDC's revised mask guidelines will address the questions the public has. "I would imagine within a period of just a couple of weeks, you're going to start to see significant clarification of some of the actually understandable and reasonable questions that people are asking," he said.

Woman taking off mask outdoors
dragana991 / iStock

Fauci also said the new mask guidance is based on the "accumulation of data on showing in the real-world effectiveness of the vaccines." He noted the vaccines have a more than 90 percent chance of protecting people against the disease and recently published studies reveal the shots also keep people safe from variants that are currently circulating. "So, the accumulation of all of those scientific facts, information, and evidence brought the CDC to make that decision to say now when you're vaccinated, you don't need to wear a mask, not only outdoors, but you don't need to wear it indoors," he added.

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Also on Sunday, May 16, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, told CNN's State of the Union that these new mask guidelines were just step one in a long mask guideline revision process. She added: "We, as a society, have the hard work to do, and we at CDC are doing that work, to say, what does that mean in the whole plethora of settings that we have, in childcare settings, in retail businesses, in schools, in camps, in travel? What does that foundation, that science that we delivered on Thursday mean for all of these other settings?"

While talking to Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that same day, Walensky said, "We needed this foundation, this building block, in order to revise all of that guidance, thousands of pages of guidance, so that we could take this information, this science-based information, as we open and as we take these next steps."

The first revised guidelines the CDC announced? Schools, where, due to the number of unvaccinated children roaming the halls, the agency continues to recommend face coverings. "All schools should implement and layer prevention strategies and should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing," the agency posted on its website on May 15.

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