On March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump officially announced a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the eleven months that followed, the United States experienced much political, economic, and social change, including a divisive election cycle, a deep recession, and widespread civil unrest.
However, nothing seems to have changed more often over the past year than Dr. Anthony Fauci’s face mask policies. Here are the five different masking opinions held by Dr. Fauci since just this time last year.
No Masks Necessary — March 2020
Five days before President Trump’s emergency declaration, Fauci — who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — adamantly stated that masks are not necessary for members of the general public.
“The masks are important for someone who’s infected to prevent them from infecting someone else,” explained Fauci during a “60 Minutes” interview with Dr. Jon LaPook. “Now, when you see people and look at the films in China and South Korea, where everybody’s wearing a mask… right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks.”
“You’re sure of it? Because people are listening really closely to this,” asked LaPook.
Fauci doubled down: “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 better” — said Fauci with air quotes — “and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is.”
Fauci also mentioned unintended consequences of wearing face masks that stem from improper usage, especially continuous face-touching. He also stated that the supply of face masks should be reserved for healthcare providers and those who are currently infected.
During another interview in July of 2020, Fauci said that he did not regret advising against masks.
“I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct,” he told CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell. “We were told in our task force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for the health providers who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to take care of sick people.”
Wear A Mask — May 2020
Weeks after his interview with “60 Minutes,” the nation’s leading infectious disease expert began changing his tune.
As reported by a March 2020 NBC News article called “Do you need a mask? The science hasn’t changed, but public guidance might,” Fauci hinted that federal health officials would reconsider their masking protocols.
“Given the fact that there is a degree of transmission from asymptomatic individuals who may not know that they’re infected, we need to at least examine the possibility, as long as we’re absolutely certain we don’t take the masks away from who are health care providers who need them,” Fauci explained to NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie.
In May, Fauci told CNN anchor Jim Sciutto that he began wearing a mask “to protect myself and protect others, and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing you should be doing.”
For the next several months, Fauci began appearing on talk shows and encouraging viewers to wear masks. Among other programs, Fauci appeared on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Try Guys.”
Masks After Vaccine — September 2020
By the fall of 2020, Fauci began stating that those who receive the COVID-19 vaccine should continue to wear face masks.
“I said a combination of an effective vaccine and adherence to certain public-health principles will get us to the point where we want to be, by the end of 2021,” Fauci told Business Insider. “I never said just the vaccine. You never should abandon the public-health measures.”
Fauci also expressed doubt that COVID-19 would ever be entirely defeated.
“I don’t think we’re going to eradicate it,” said Fauci. “We may not completely eliminate it, but if you get it down to such a very low level, and enough of the population is protected — either by a vaccine or by previously having been infected — then you’ll develop a degree of herd immunity that you won’t have an outbreak.”
Two Masks — February 2021
On February 10, the CDC released a study declaring that wearing two masks — a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask — is more effective at preventing COVID-19 than wearing only one mask. The study found that the strategy is effective when combined with “other protective measures, such as physical distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, and good hand hygiene.”
Weeks before the CDC released the study, however, Fauci began publicly hinting his support of the use of multiple masks. On January 25, Fauci told TODAY 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.”
“There’s nothing wrong with people wearing two masks,” Fauci also said during a February 3 press briefing. “I often myself wear two masks.”
Fauci announced that the CDC would issue a recommendation “when the science comes along.”
Masks Necessary Until COVID-19 ‘Not A Threat At All’ — February 2021
Earlier this week, Fauci told Fox News anchor Bret Baier that masks will be necessary until COVID-19 is “not a threat at all.”
“Is there going to be a time when we are going to be, no masks?” asked Baier. “When is that time? If you had to guess, going to a sports game, going to a theater, going to a concert without a mask?”
“That will really be dependent upon how we get the level of virus in the community down,” Fauci answered.
“If we can get — and I have used this as an estimate, it’s not definitive — but if we can get 70 to 85 percent of the population vaccinated, and get to what we would hope would be to a degree of herd immunity, which really is an umbrella or a veil of protection against the community, where the level of virus is so low it’s not a threat at all, then at that point, you can start thinking in terms of not having to have uniform wearing of masks,” continued Fauci.
“If everything falls into the right place and we get this under control, it is conceivable that you might be able to pull back a bit on some of the public health measures as we get into the late fall of this year,” he added.
“But there’s no guarantee of that, because if we don’t get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, there’s still going to be a considerable amount of virus in the community, and as long as that’s the case, people are going to have to wear masks.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.