Dr. Fauci Just Said You May Not Need a Mask When You Do This Very Soon

Fauci thinks the CDC will revise guidance for masks in this scenario in the near future.

We've been advised to wear masks for more than a year now. But as an increasing number of people in the U.S. are getting vaccinated against COVID—more than half of adults now have at least one shot—many of us are hoping we'll be able to go mask-free soon. If you're among those wondering how long mask guidelines will be in effect for, the answer may be revealed soon. In an Apr. 25 interview with ABC's This Week, Anthony Fauci, MD, White House Chief medical advisor, hinted that we may not need face masks in one scenario in the near future. Read on to find out what it is, and for more on vaccines from Fauci, check out Dr. Fauci Says Your COVID Vaccine Protects You for at Least This Long.

Fauci hinted that the CDC may be revising its guidance on masking outdoors.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to testify before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Friday, July 31, 2020.
Kevin Dietsch/Pool Via Cnp/Media Punch/Alamy Live News

While speaking with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week on Apr. 25, Fauci hinted that another step towards normalcy could be coming very soon. "I think it's pretty common sense now that outdoor risk is really, really quite low," Fauci said. "Particularly, I mean, if you are a vaccinated person, wearing a mask outdoors… obviously, the risk is minuscule."

When Stephanopoulos suggested that he's heard the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is thinking about revising their outdoor mask guidance, Fauci said, "What the country is going to be hearing soon is updated guidelines from the CDC. The CDC is a science-based organization. They don't want to make any guidelines unless they look at the data, and the data backs it up," Fauci added.

And for more from the top doctor, read on for The 2 Places Dr. Fauci Still Won't Go After Vaccination.

The change would come as more than 30 percent of adults in the U.S. are fully vaccinated.

white man and white woman with face masks talking outside
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According to the latest CDC data, 93 million adults in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against COVID as of April 25. With about 244 million adults in the U.S., Fauci explained to Stephanopoulos that means "we now have more than 30 percent of the adult population that is fully vaccinated."

Though Fauci cautioned that getting back to normal will still be "a challenge," he was optimistic. "We have vaccines now. The more we take a look at the data as it accumulates, we see it is even more effective than what the initial numbers of the clinical trial," he said. "We're doing very well."

And for more on vaccine efficacy, This Is How Long the Moderna Vaccine Really Protects You, New Study Says.

Another top doctor suspects outdoor mask mandates will be lifted within weeks.

Couple Taking A Walk With Masks Because City Is Polluted
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Ashish Jha, MD, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, recently appeared on CNN and said he also thinks outdoor mask mandates will start being lifted soon. "I expect over the next few weeks states to start lifting outdoor mask mandates," he said during an Apr. 18 interview on CNN's Inside Politics.

That's because, as Jha told host Abby Phillip, outdoor transmission is "extremely rare." A systematic review published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases in Feb. 2021 found that less than 10 percent of reported COVID infections took place outside. "The odds of indoor transmission was very high compared to outdoors," the authors concluded. In fact, it's almost 19 times more likely, their research determined.

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Despite an end to outdoor mask mandates looming, there is one situation in which outdoor transmission is more likely.

two people sitting on a bench in a park
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Jha said on CNN that outdoor infections "only happen when you have large packed rallies for instance. So if you are not participating in one of those, I think it is pretty safe to be out and about walking around without a mask, especially in large parts of the country where infection numbers are under reasonable control."

Saskia Popescu, PhD, an epidemiologist at the University of Arizona in Phoenix, also told the National Geographic that the risk of catching COVID outside isn't zero. "Outside is protective, but it's not a total risk eliminator," she said in early April. "When we're seeing transmission outdoors, it's people who are close to each other, talking face to face."

Popescu said when she is deciding to take her mask off outside, she takes into consideration "distance, duration, and intensity." "If I'm in a farmers market, I'll wear a mask because I'm around other people. Even if I can kind of distance periodically, I'll wear a mask the whole time," she said. "If I'm walking with my husband on the beach or walking down the street with my dog, I will have my mask with me and I'll put it on as I see people approaching."

And for more on the rare instances of COVID infection post-vaccination, read up on why 65 Percent of Vaccinated People Who Get COVID Have This in Common, CDC Says.

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