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Fauci On If U.S. Will Return To Normal By Next Year: ‘It Really Depends On’ How You Define Normal

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House press briefing, conducted by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House January 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki held her second press briefing since President Joe Biden took office yesterday. (Photo by
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Sunday that Americans may need to wear masks until next year and that he can’t predict when things in the U.S. will return to normal.

“You and the president have suggested that we’ll approach normality toward the end of the year. What does normal mean?” CNN’s Dana Bash asked. “Do you think Americans will still be wearing masks, for example, in 2022?”

“You know, I think it is possible that that’s the case,” Fauci said. “And again, it really depends on what you mean, by normality … because if normality means exactly the way things were before we had this happen to us, I mean, I can’t predict that.”

“But I mean, obviously, I think we’re going to have a significant degree of normality, beyond what the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year, that as we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with the president completely, that we will be approaching a degree of normality, it may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019,” he added. “But it’ll be much, much better than what we’re doing right now.”

When asked why he thought that Americans might need to wear masks next year, Fauci said that it depended on the level of the virus in the community.

“And that’s really important, because that gets back to something, again, that you said, if you see the level coming down really, really very low, I want it to keep going down to a baseline that’s so low, that there’s virtually no threat, or not no, it’ll never be zero, but a minimal minimal threat, that you will be exposed to someone who is infected,” he said. “So if you combined, 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, you know, for the most part, we don’t necessarily have to wear masks.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: You and the president have suggested that we’ll approach normality toward the end of the year. What is normal mean? Do you think Americans will still be wearing masks, for example, in 2022?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: You know, I think it is possible that that’s the case. And again, it really depends on what you mean, by normality.

BANA: Right, that’s why I want you to define it.

FAUCI: If normality is exactly the way … No, Dana, it’s important because if normality means exactly the way things were before we had this happen to us, I mean, I can’t predict that. But I mean, obviously, I think we’re going to have a significant degree of normality, beyond what the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year, that as we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with the president completely, that we will be approaching a degree of normality, it may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019. But it’ll be much, much better than what we’re doing right now.

BASH: Why do you think Americans might have to wear masks into 2022?

FAUCI: You know, because it depends on the level of, of, of dynamics of virus that’s in the community. And that’s really important, because that gets back to something, again, that you said, if you see the level coming down really, really very low, I want it to keep going down to a baseline that’s so low, that there’s virtually no threat, or not no, it’ll never be zero, but a minimal minimal threat, that you will be exposed to someone who is infected. So if you combined, 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, you know, for the most part, we don’t necessarily have to wear masks. But if we have a level of virus that is at that level, that it was months and months ago, like 20,000 per day, is a heck of a lot better than what it’s been. But that’s still very high level of virus in the community. I want to see it go way down. When it goes way down. And the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable in saying, you know, we need to pull back on the masks. We don’t need to have masks.

BASH: Wow. So so your timeline is taking us out? A year, maybe two years, maybe even longer?

FAUCI: No, I you know, I can’t say that, Dana, and I don’t want to I don’t want it to be said that because then it will be a soundbite that’s not true. Okay. I’m saying we don’t know. We don’t know.

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