This Is Exactly When Dr. Fauci Says We Can "Throw Our Masks Away"
The nation's top infectious disease expert says we have some time before we can go out sans covering.
After months of tireless research and testing, the world was finally treated to some good news recently when pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna both announced that they were each in the final stages of developing a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. And while both boast success rates above 90 percent, experts still caution that the rollout process doesn't translate to certain daily health measures disappearing overnight—meaning, even with a vaccine, we won't just suddenly stop wearing masks, according to Anthony Fauci, MD. But that's not to say a mask-free future isn't on the horizon either. Read on to see what Fauci had to say about when we'll really be done wearing PPE, and for more on where the pandemic is striking the worst, find out How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
In an interview with The New York Times published on Nov. 19, Kaiser Health News Editor-in-Chief Ethrow our masks away?" The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director projected that the recent inoculation news meant that the timeline was becoming more clear, but that things wouldn't necessarily go back to "normal" immediately. "I think that we're going to have some degree of public health measures together with the vaccine for a considerable period of time," he said, "but we'll start approaching normal—if the overwhelming majority of people take the vaccine—as we get into the third or fourth quarter [of 2021]."asked Fauci, "When do you think we'll all be able to
Fauci continued on to describe what he thought President-elect Joe Biden should do to tackle the pandemic when he assumed office in January, suggesting that PPE is a proven solution to currently skyrocketing numbers. "I think that there should be universal wearing of masks," he said. "If we can accomplish that with local mayors, governors, local authorities, fine. If not, we should seriously consider national."
But he also clarified that his recommendations weren't meant as a threat to return to full shutdowns of businesses as the country saw during the early days of the pandemic. Instead, a cohesive national strategy would help make sure that everyone was on the same page when it came to health policy.
"I want to really be explicit about this, because whenever I talk about simple things like uniform wearing of masks, keeping physical distance, avoiding crowds (particularly indoors), doing things outdoors to the extent possible with the weather, and washing hands frequently, that doesn't mean shutting down the country," he explained. "You can still have a considerable amount of leeway for business, for economic recovery, if you just do those simple things. But what we're seeing, unfortunately, is a very disparate response to that. And that inevitably leads to the kind of surges that we see now."
The nation's top infectious disease doctor also spelled out what other risky behavior he was still wary of. Read on to see which places Fauci said you should be avoiding, and for more on how to keep yourself and others safe, check out This Is the Easiest Way to Tell If You've Been Exposed to COVID.
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Fauci, who's 79 years old, said that anyone who is high risk like himself should avoid "flying in an airplane." And for more advice on this, check out The CDC Just Issued This Shocking Thanksgiving Warning.
Just because you're really craving your favorite dish doesn't mean it's safe to dine out, especially since those eating and drinking can't wear masks while they do so. "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," Fauci said. And for more COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Fauci, who has been saying for months that watering holes can be some of the riskiest venues for spreading COVID-19, reiterated his long-standing concern in his interview with The New York Times. "Bars are really problematic. 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," he said. "I would think that if there's anything you want to clamp down on for the time being, it's bars." And for more on the latest with the COVID vaccine, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Many People Need to Get Vaccinated to Stop COVID.
While it may not be an option for everyone, avoiding the use of busy public transit is probably still in the best interest of those who are high risk. "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," he said. "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."
But Fauci said that didn't mean everyone had to avoid these means of transportation. "If you're a 25-year-old who has no underlying conditions, that's much different," he explained. And for more signs you could be coming down with something, check out If You Notice These 3 Strange Symptoms, You May Have COVID, Study Says.