“There are things, even if you’re vaccinated, that you’re not going to be able to do in society,” Fauci said on Monday during a White House briefing. “For example, indoor dining, theaters, places where people congregate. That’s because of the safety of society.”
Fauci argued the vaccine does not yet guarantee a return to normality because the science is not clear on whether vaccinated people can still spread the coronavirus.
While vaccination dramatically increases one’s “own personal safety,” he said, it’s not a reason to stop complying with restrictions, including mask-wearing and social distancing.
“We hope that when the data comes in, it’s going to show that the virus level is quite low and you’re not transmitting it,” Fauci said. “We don’t know that now. And for that reason, we want to make sure that people continue to wear masks despite the fact that they’re vaccinated.”
When pressed on how long Americans could expect restrictions to stay in place, Fauci said it “depends on what you mean by ‘normality.’”
“We are still at an unacceptably high baseline level,” he said. “Because the burden of virus in society will be very high — which it is right now.”
Americans could be social distancing and wearing masks into 2022, he said.
Not until the vast majority of people in the country are vaccinated will Americans be able to take the masks off, he added.
“If you combine 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 are going to be able to say you know for the most part we don’t necessarily have to wear masks,” Fauci said. “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.”
Critics argued Fauci’s doomsday predictions disincentivize on-the-fence Americans from getting the vaccine, since he is essentially admitting it won’t change anything.
The “vaccination makes no difference” crowd is probably the biggest menace we have to public health right now. https://t.co/4zlnqqFTsN
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) February 22, 2021
Stop discouraging vaccinations with nonsense. This isn’t your opportunity to try to influence societal behavior. It’s our path back to normal. And we want people to take it.
— AG (@AGHamilton29) February 23, 2021