Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that Americans shouldn’t expect to ditch their face masks anytime soon, even amid vaccination efforts and declining infections nationwide.
“I think we’re going to be wearing masks for several, several months into the future,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden’s chief medial adviser, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Fauci said when 70 to 85 percent of people are vaccinated, “the level of virus in the community could be so low that you could start pulling back a bit on what are stringent public health measures” — but it shouldn’t be done all at once.
“You want to do it gradually and safely, as opposed to just turning it on and off right away,” Fauci said, CNN reported. “There’s still going to be the important need to wear masks, I think we still need to do that. You want to avoid congregate settings, but you can gradually get to the situation where you might open up restaurants with limited seating and things like that. But’s got to be done prudently and gradually.”
As of Friday, the U.S. led the world with approximately 27.4 million coronavirus cases and nearly 477,000 virus-related deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker. The numbers have slowed significantly in recent weeks, however, after cases and deaths hit pandemic highs last month.
So far, the U.S. has administered roughly 48.4 million of its 69 million available coronavirus vaccine doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.