Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, says Americans could still be wearing masks next year even as the country approaches “a significant degree of normality” in the fall.
Asked Sunday by CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” whether masks will still be necessary next year, Fauci said, “You know, I think it is possible that that’s the case and, again, it really depends on what you mean by normality. If normality means exactly the way things were before we had this happen to us, I can’t predict that, but obviously we’re going to have a significant degree of normality beyond the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year.”
But he said whether Americans can ditch masks is dependent upon the overall number of coronavirus cases, which he should be minuscule before making such a recommendation.
“I want it to keep going down to a baseline that’s so low there’s virtually no threat,” Fauci said. “So if you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe you’re going to be able to say, for the most part, we don’t necessarily have to wear masks.”
The daily numbers of cases and deaths have significantly declined in recent weeks after the holiday peak and amid nationwide vaccine rollouts. The 56,495 cases reported Sunday are down more than 80% from the one-day record of 299,786 from Jan. 2, while the 1,249 deaths recorded were nearly four times fewer than the Jan. 12 high of 4,407, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
As of Monday, the U.S. has reported roughly 28.1 million cases and nearly 500,000 related deaths, both tops globally, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.
The U.S. currently has administered approximately 63.1 million of its 75.2 million available doses of coronavirus vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.