Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s “possible” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could recommend wearing two masks to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Fauci has previously suggested wearing two masks was preferable to one – although he later walked that back a bit. But in an appearance on The Washington Post Live on Tuesday, Fauci was asked if the CDC would issue guidance for all Americans to wear two masks.
“That’s possible,” said Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on President Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force and is now President Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19.
“In fact, in discussions with my CDC colleagues yesterday, we were talking about how the CDC is looking at doing a study of seeing whether or not two masks are better than one. It makes common sense you would think,” he said. “If one mask serves as a physical barrier, if you put two on – if you’re looking for enhancing the physical barrier – it makes common sense that it certainly can’t hurt and might help.”
So far, though, there is a lack of data on whether two is better than one, Fauci said.
“But when people tell me or ask me: ‘Should I be wearing two masks?’ I say: ‘You know, if it makes you feel better to do two masks, the chances are you’re gonna’ get an enhanced protection, so why not go ahead and do it?'” he said.
Fauci’s views on masks appear to have been evolving. Back in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was emerging, Fauci said, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”
“When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is,” the doctor said on CBS News.
Soon after Fauci made his comments, experts – including those in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention – said Americans should wear masks, citing estimates that 40% or more of those infected were asymptomatic but could still spread the virus. And Fauci agreed.
“We were not aware that 40% to 45% of people were asymptomatic, nor were we aware that a substantial proportion of people who get infected get infected from people who are without symptoms. That makes it overwhelmingly important for everyone to wear a mask,” Fauci said in September, noting that “the data now are very, very clear.”
Last month, Fauci said that wearing two masks is likely more effective than wearing one. “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,” Fauci told NBC News.
Then last weekend, Fauci said: “There are many people who feel, you know, if you want to have an extra little bit of protection, maybe I should put two masks on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference and that’s the reason why the CDC has not changed the recommendation.”
Related: DOUBLE UP: Dr. Fauci Again Changes Mask-Wearing Recommendation