The United States is in an unnecessary bind from rising cases of COVID-19 stemming from the delta variant and the fact that many Americans have not been vaccinated, Anthony Fauci, M.D., the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Sunday.
We are headed in the wrong direction, Fauci said, noting that he is very frustrated.
He said the recommendation for vaccinees to wear masks is being actively weighed” by the government’s top public health officials. Booster doses may also be suggested for people with depressed immune systems who have been inoculated, he said.
Fauci, who is also President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, said on CNN’s State of the Union that he has been involved in discussions to modify guidelines for use of the masks.
He noted that some local jurisdictions where infection rates are rising, such as in Los Angeles County, are already requiring individuals to wear masks in public regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. Fauci said those local rules are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in public.
About 163 million people, or 49% of the eligible U.S. population, are vaccinated, according to CDC data.
This is predominantly a problem among the unvaccinated, which is why we are out there, practically begging the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, Fauci said.
The official added that government experts are reviewing preliminary data at a time when they are weighing whether to recommend that vaccinated individuals receive booster doses. He noted that a booster dose is likely to be recommended for some of the most vulnerable, such as organ transplant or cancer patients.
He also praised Republicans, including Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, for encouraging their constituents to get vaccinated. Their states have some of the lowest inoculation rates in the country.
What I would really like to see is more and more leaders in those areas where they are not getting vaccinated going out and encouraging people to get vaccinated, he said.
Hutchinson, who also spoke on CNN, said he didn’t know if he had underestimated people’s reluctance to vaccinate, but acknowledged that resistance has hardened in certain elements and it’s just false information. These are myths. Going into these meetings, someone said, Don’t call it a vaccine, Call it a biological weapon. And they talk about mind control. Well, that is obviously wrong. Other members of the community correct it.”