Just two months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID can shed their masks and return to normal life, for the most part. But now, the CDC has reversed the mandate and has advised the public, vaccinated or not, to continue wearing masks whenever they head out to public spaces, causing many to criticize CDC's ever-changing mandates on COVID safety.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, controversial director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and White House adviser recently defended the CDC's retraction of mask mandates, saying that the public health authority did not in fact "flip-flop" on its mask recommendations. On Tuesday, the CDC had reversed the mask mandates and ordered everyone to again wear masks when heading to public spaces, something that Republican leaders have already denounced.
"The CDC hasn't changed, and the CDC hasn't really flip-flopped at all," Dr. Fauci told MSNBC on Wednesday, as reported by The Blaze. The NIH director argued that back in May, the United States was predominantly dealing with the alpha variant of COVID. Now, Dr. Fauci claims that the delta variant of COVID is causing havoc among the unvaccinated and the vaccinated, which is why the CDC has urged everyone to put their masks back on.
Dr. Fauci explained that with the alpha variant, vaccinated folks would be "extremely unlikely" to get infected and transmit it to other people. This is not the case with the delta variant. The NIH director explained that the delta variant of COVID is "really quite a lot more transmissible than the alpha variant" and that those who have been infected with the delta variant can pass it on to uninfected individuals.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration chief was one of the first to speak out against CDC's recent decisions surrounding the new guidelines developed to address the delta variant of COVID. He said that the new guidance is "confusing" and will most likely have a "negligible" impact on bringing COVID infection rates down.
"I don't think we're going to get enough bang for our buck by telling vaccinated people they have to wear masks at all times to make it worth our while," Dr. Gottlieb told CNBC, as reported by The Hill. The ex-FDA executive added that CDC may have been delayed in documenting and analyzing the new wave of COVID infections caused by the delta variant. He believes that the country is "further into this delta wave than we're picking up" and that "in another two or three weeks we'll be through this."
Republican leaders have pushed back on CDC's mask mandates and firmly responded by saying that some states will no longer abide by the guidance and will place the responsibility of being safe from COVID in the hands of their citizens. A number of states have shown high vaccination rates and low rates of new infections, making them confident in fully reopening their economies and schools.