White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering recommending masks for vaccinated individuals as the Delta variant continues to surge.
Fauci spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” about COVID-19 and was asked about one projection that suggests cases will continue rising if more Americans don’t get vaccinated. Fauci confirmed that “it’s not going to be good” and declared the country is “going in the wrong direction.” He also warned that the CDC is discussing mask mandates for people who have been fully vaccinated – a subject that the White House has been pressed on in recent weeks.
“This is under active consideration,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper regarding whether conversations about revising the mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans is ongoing. “If you’re asking am I part of the discussion, yes, I am part of the discussion. But I think what you are seeing, even though as of our conversation at this moment, the CDC still says and recommends that if you are vaccinated fully, that you do not need to wear a mask indoors.”
“However, if you look at what’s going on locally in the trenches, in places like L.A. County, the local officials have the discretion and the CDC agrees with that ability and discretion capability to say, you know, you’re in a situation where we’re having a lot of dynamics of infection, so even if you are vaccinated, you should wear a mask,” he continued. “That’s a local decision that’s not incompatible with the CDC’s overall recommendations that give a lot of discretion to the locals. And we’re seeing that in L.A. We’re seeing it in Chicago. We’re seeing that in New Orleans, because the officials there, many of them are saying even if you’re vaccinated, it’s prudent to wear a mask indoors. That’s a local decision.”
The indoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals at the White House was lifted in May following the CDC’s decision to revise its mask policy. The White House has been asked repeatedly what its stance on re-adding mask mandates for vaccinated individuals is amid the rise in the Delta variant, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki noting that there’s been no change in guidance. (RELATED: ‘The Only Pandemic We Have Is Among The Unvaccinated’: Biden Says Facebook Misinformation Is ‘Killing People’)
Psaki also said the mask mandate decision would ultimately come from the CDC and not the White House.
“I’ve seen the reporting, but what I can tell you is that there has been no decision to change our mask guidelines,” Psaki told reporters Thursday when pressed on whether conversations on the subject have occurred. “Any decisions about public health would be driven by the CDC. But, of course, we are engaged with public health experts and the CDC about how to continue to attack the virus. And we’ve never said that battle is over; it’s still ongoing.”
“It would be more concerning — or should be more concerning to all of you and the American people — if we were not having those conversations. So, there are certainly conversations about steps we can and should take,” the press secretary added.
Fauci reiterated a now-common statement among President Joe Biden and his administration regarding the Delta variant: That the pandemic is among the unvaccinated. He noted that “the vaccine is highly protective against the Delta variant” and said Americans have less serious side effects if they do contract the virus after getting the shot.