The Only Reason Dr. Fauci Doesn't Endorse a National Mask Mandate
And it's not because he thinks PPE doesn't work to slow the spread of COVID.
Even though the pandemic has made getting reliable information feel difficult at times, it has become increasingly clear that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. But the topic remains a contentious debate among those who view wearing a face covering as a public health necessity and those who see it as an infringement upon their personal freedom. In fact, the divide is so deep that it's even convinced top health official Anthony Fauci, MD, that he shouldn't endorse a national mask mandate.
In a new Nov. 24 interview with local Washington, D.C. affiliate FOX 5, Fauci touched upon his stance when asked about how he would advise the incoming presidential administration on a national COVID strategy. "I'm not so sure there will be a national mandate, but surely a strong encouragement to utilize masks," he explained. "If President-Elect [Joe] Biden decides to make a national mandate, I would encourage people to abide by that mandate."
However, last week, in an interview with The New York Times published on Nov. 19, Kaiser Health News Editor-in-Chief E"I think that there should be universal wearing of masks," he explained. "If we can accomplish that with local mayors, governors, local authorities, fine. If not, we should seriously consider national."
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director went on to say that the deeply politicized nature of PPE has made it incredibly difficult to enact a national mandate that would be followed. In fact, he's worried that a higher authority setting a new rule on face coverings could make some less likely to wear them in the end. "The only reason that I shy away from making a strong recommendation in that regard is that things that come from the national level down generally engender a bit of pushback from an already reluctant populace that doesn't like to be told what to do," Fauci told The Times. "So you might wind up having the countereffect of people pushing back even more."
Read on to see where Fauci is cautioning against going right now, and for more on the hottest of hot zones at the moment, find out How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
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Flying has been a controversial topic as Thanksgiving nears, but Fauci plainly told The Times that high-risk folks, like himself, as he's 79 years old, should avoid "flying in an airplane." However, he added, "if you're a 25-year-old who has no underlying conditions, that's much different." And for more advice from the NIAID director, beware that If You Have This COVID Symptom, Don't Go to Thanksgiving, Dr. Fauci Says
Even if you're not planning on hosting others at your house for Thanksgiving, a restaurant—especially indoors—is not a safer option, according to Fauci. "If we're in the hot zone the way we are now, where there's so many infections around, I would feel quite uncomfortable even being in a restaurant. And particularly if it was at full capacity," he said. And for more on how to stay safe, Don't Spend More Than This Long in the Grocery Store, Doctor Warns.
Fauci hasn't minced words when it comes to the dangers bars pose. "I have to tell you, if you look at some of the outbreaks that we've seen, it's when people go into bars, crowded bars," Fauci said. "When you're at a bar, people are leaning over your shoulder to get a drink, people next to each other like this. It's kind of fun because it's social, but it's not fun when this virus is in the air. So I would think that if there's anything you want to clamp down on for the time being, it's bars."
Perhaps that's why the state of Pennsylvania announced a one-night ban of alcohol sales at bars and restaurants on one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, Thanksgiving Eve, from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. And for more up-to-date COVID news, sign up for our daily newsletter.
"It depends on your individual circumstances. If you are someone who is in the highest risk category, as best as possible, don't travel anywhere," Fauci said when asked about public transportation. "If you go someplace, you have a car, you're in your car by yourself, not getting on a crowded subway, not getting on a crowded bus." And for more signs of the virus you should know about, These 4 Easy-To-Miss Symptoms Could Mean You Have COVID, Experts Say.