We should applaud Dr. Anthony Fauci and the CDC, which this month finally started catching up with Florida, Texas and South Dakota and handing people back their liberty and actually listening to “the science.”
For a government official and federal body that have preached a science-based approach, they sure have dragged their feet. Let’s take a look back at Dr. Fauci’s mutating mask guidance.
- Fauci Urged You Not to Mask Up
In a March 2020 interview with 60 Minutes, Dr Fauci initially said people should not wear a mask,
The masks are important for someone who is infected, to prevent them from infecting someone else. […] Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks. […] There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.
And acknowledges that they are more symbolic, noting:
When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people ‘feel’ a little bit better, it might even block a droplet. But it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think it is.
Before hinting at the real reason he was discouraging you from going out to buy a mask,
When you think masks you should think of healthcare providers needing them and people who are ill. […] When you look at the films of foreign countries and you see 85% of people wearing masks that’s fine. That’s fine. I’m not against it; if you want to do it that’s fine.
At this point you can almost hear viewers getting out of their seats to grab their car keys and go buy some, so the interviewer gently nudges Fauci a bit. “But it can lead to a shortage of masks?”
Exactly, that’s the point. It could lead to a shortage of masks for the people who really need it.
The remainder was unspoken: Really, you should only go buy a mask if you’re a selfish person who wants to deprive a doctor of one.
- Fauci Lied About Masks
Barely one month later on April 3, 2020, the CDC updated its guidance to recommend people wear cloth face coverings “in public settings when around people outside their household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain” with exceptions for children under the age of 2, people who have trouble breathing, are unconscious or incapacitated.
When asked about the change in policy NIAID’s outspoken director admits he lied about the value of wearing a mask because he was concerned hospitals would run out, saying,
It became clear that cloth coverings — […] and not necessarily a surgical mask or N95 — cloth coverings work. Now there is no longer a shortage of masks. Number two, meta-analysis studies show that, contrary to what we thought, masks really do work in preventing infection.
- Fauci Endorsed Goggles, Double-Masking
In a July 2020 exchange ABC News’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton asked Fauci if he thought we would “get to the point where eye protection is recommended?”
You know, it might. I mean, if you really want perfect protection of your mucosal surfaces [which are in the eye, nose and mouth] that’s one of the things that, theoretically, you should protect all mucosal surfaces. So, if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.
Fauci revealed it was “not universally recommended” because “it’s so easy for people to just make a cloth mask.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci to @DrJAshton: "If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it. It's not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can." https://t.co/SJPZn8fN6F pic.twitter.com/Ml87aBuclI
— ABC News (@ABC) July 29, 2020
Just a few months later in November Fauci warned the public to not abandon public health measures just because they were vaccinated and instead encouraged them to “double down on the public health measures until we get the vaccine.” It became clear that doubling down actually meant double-masking when Fauci speculated on the Today show that, “If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on. It just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective.”
The media quickly caught on to this statement and began proliferating the news along with efficiency estimates for number of masks:
- Fauci Emphasized That the Vaccinated Still Needed to Wear Masks
Yet, as late as February 4, 2021 — by which point 43,756,763 vaccine doses had been administered and 9,865,327 Americans were fully vaccinated — Fauci was still tweeting that, “we do not have enough data to be able to say with confidence that the vaccines can prevent transmission. So even if vaccinated, you may still be able to spread the virus to vulnerable people.”
Clinical trials showed the vaccines were highly safe and effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, including serious disease. However, vaccinated people may still be able to spread the virus. Until we learn more, it is important to wear a mask & socially distance. -AF https://t.co/9txZI3SnqO
— White House COVID-19 Response Team (@WHCOVIDResponse) February 4, 2021
- Fauci Goes on the Record Saying Masks for Vaccinated “Are Not Theatre”
In a March 2021 Senate hearing, Senator Rand Paul accused Fauci of “defying everything we know about immunity by telling people to wear a mask who’ve been vaccinated.” Senator Paul continued:
You want to get rid of vaccine hesitancy? Tell them to quit wearing their masks after they get the vaccine. You want people to get the vaccine? Give them a reward instead of telling them the nanny state is going to be there for three more years and you’ve got to wear a mask forever. People don’t want to hear it; there’s no science behind it.
Fauci respond by saying,
Let me just state for the record, that masks are not theatre. Masks are protective –
To which Paul interjected:
– if you have immunity they are theatre. If you already have immunity you’re wearing a mask to give comfort to others, you’re not wearing a mask because of any science.
But Fauci still wouldn’t budge, and instead replied, “I totally disagree with you.”
- Fauci Feels “Much More Comfortable” Being Seen Without a Mask
But, following the sudden about-face in CDC guidance Fauci reveals his decision to continue to wear a mask after being vaccinated was, in fact, theatre:
I am now much more comfortable in people seeing me indoors, without a mask. I mean, before the CDC made the recommendation to change, I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals. But being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected in an indoor setting is extremely low. And that’s the reason why, in indoor settings now, I feel comfortable about not wearing a mask, because I’m fully vaccinated.
But he swore it wasn’t theater. https://t.co/bJ1sZNXnEX
— Brit Hume (@brithume) May 18, 2021
Fauci also reassures CBS News anchor Gayle King that, despite the “side eye” people are giving her when she doesn’t don a mask, that “If you are vaccinated you don’t have to wear a mask outside.” But then it seems he just can’t resist returning to being contradictory:
If you are going into a completely crowded situation where people are essentially falling all over each other, then you wear a mask. But any other time, iIf you are vaccinated and you are outside, put aside your mask. You don’t have to wear it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci confirms, "If you are vaccinated, you don't have to wear a mask outside." 😷 pic.twitter.com/Wcy3AsPnnP
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) May 13, 2021
But we can expect further flip-flops from Fauci, who expects the CDC will release more “individual types of guidance” and “significant clarification” for fully vaccinated people in particular settings (like the workplace) in the coming weeks.
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) aptly described the CDC’s “conflicting, confusing guidance” as “undermin[ing] public confidence and contradict[ing] the scientific guidance of many experts.” Both Fauci and the CDC’s lack of transparency and honest communication during Covid will be remembered and will undermine public support in future pandemic responses.
Perhaps if Dr. Fauci had spent less time indulging his desire for air time (with 300+ media appearances in 12 months) and honestly communicated up-to-date scientific findings, more Americans would feel comfortable about returning to normal life.