Special Report

When Americans Can Stop Wearing Face Masks, According to Dr. Fauci

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Masks may be here to stay

In an appearance on CNN, Dr. Fauci said it is “possible” Americans will need to wear masks even if the U.S. reaches “a significant degree of normality”. The key to Dr. Fauci’s comment is what normal means to most people. Not everyone in the U.S. will be vaccinated by the end of 2021. Part of this may be supply, but another reason may be the large number of people who have refused vaccination.

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Many Americans will likely never get vaccinated

Many Americans have some hesitation about being vaccinated. According to The Kaiser Foundation, 31% will “wait and see how it is working”. Another 13% will “definity not get it”. The answers fell, to some extent, along racial lines, with Blacks and Hispanics less likely than Whites to say they will definitely get vaccinated.

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We are on track to get back to normal soon

Dr. Fauci added in his CNN comments that “As we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with (President Joe Biden) completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality.” Much of that will be based on whether the country has approached herd immunity which means that somewhere between 70% and 80% of Americans have either been infected or have been vaccinated.

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For some, masks will always be a good idea

Although Fauci has put the possible end date for wearing masks at 2022, some parts of the population may wear them indefinitely. Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonary and critical care doctor told CNBC: “I think face masks will continue to be used by the general public in times when they don’t feel well, and honestly we’re realizing that no one feels slighted without a handshake.”

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COVID-19 will never be completely eradicated

Additionally, COVID-19 may become a permanent presence in the U.S. and around the world. There are chances that vaccination will not entirely eradicate the disease, and that it will continue to mutate. If so, like the flu, there may have to be new vaccines each year. Recently, in WebMD, Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, a professor at the C.R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign commented: “One conclusion is that the disease may be seasonal, like the flu. This is very relevant to what we should expect from now on after the vaccine controls these first waves of COVID-19.”