Sunday on ABC News, Fauci was asked whether it’s time to start relaxing indoor masks requirements. Fauci replied, “I think so, and I think you’re going to probably be seeing that as we go along, and as more people get vaccinated.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be updating its guidance almost in real time, as more Americans get vaccinated, said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We do need to start being more liberal, as we get more people vaccinated,” he added.
Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said face mask requirements should be relaxed now that the Covid-19 risk is dropping.
“Certainly outdoors, we shouldn’t be putting limits on gatherings anymore,” Gottlieb said. “The states where prevalence is low, vaccination rates are high, and we have good testing in place, we’re identifying infections, I think we could start lifting these restrictions indoors as well, on a broad basis.”
Lifting pandemic restrictions when they are no longer necessary will make it easier for public health officials to reimplement them if cases rise again, such as a potential winter surge, Gottlieb said.
Fauci makes a Mother’s Day prediction
The US probably will be back to normal by next Mother’s Day, if enough people get vaccinated against Covid-19, Fauci said on ABC News.
“I hope that next Mother’s Day, we’re going to see a dramatic difference than what we’re seeing right now,” he said. “I believe that we will be about as close to back to normal as we can.”
There are some conditions, he noted.
“We’ve got to make sure that we get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated. When that happens, the virus doesn’t really have any place to go,” he said. “You’re not going to see a surge. You’re not going to see the kinds of numbers we see now.”
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that the country is “turning the corner” on the pandemic — but stressed the importance of all Americans getting vaccinated.
He noted that President Joe Biden set a goal of having 70% of adults vaccinated by July 4.
“We’re at 58% today. So we’ve got a path ahead of us,” he said.
Zients said that despite some mask fatigue, Americans should continue to follow the science when it comes to wearing masks indoors, and wait for new CDC guidance before changing their habits.
“We all want to get back to a normal lifestyle. I think we’re on the path to do that, but stay disciplined, and let’s take advantage of the new privileges of being vaccinated and not wearing masks outdoors for example, unless you’re in a crowded place,” he said.
3 things that may defeat vaccine hesitancy
“What’s the difference between FDA emergency use authorization and full approval? It’s really time and money,” infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist Dr. Céline Gounder told CNN on Saturday.
“But for some people, seeing a full approval from the FDA will indeed give them more confidence that these vaccines are safe and effective — and look, they are safe and effective,” she added.
The FDA “will move as expeditiously as possible,” without compromising its safety standards, to assess Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for approval, Zients said Friday.
More than 112 million Americans — almost 34% of the population — are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.
US official: Vaccine confidence only one piece of puzzle
But confidence in the vaccines is only “one piece of the puzzle,” when it comes to the challenges the US faces in its vaccination efforts, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said during a White House Covid-19 briefing on Friday.
“The barriers to getting vaccinated fall into three main categories,” he said. “Vaccine confidence, motivation and access.”
And local, state and federal efforts are ongoing, he said, which aim to address all three pieces.
“I know it’s been a difficult year and that everyone in our country has been asked to step up and sacrifice in a big way,” Murthy said. “I want to be clear that this pandemic will end. The faster we get vaccinated, the faster that day will come.”
J&J pause ‘cast a shadow’ on vaccinations
But the recommendation to pause had its own effects.
“(The) Johnson & Johnson pause did cast a shadow over the momentum that we had gained,” Dr. Jayne Morgan, clinical director of the Piedmont Healthcare Covid Task Force, said.
Two weeks after the J&J recommended pause was lifted, that vaccine accounts for a very small share of doses administered in the US — and the current pace of administration lags significantly from the pace before the pause, CDC data shows.
Over seven days, the J&J vaccine accounted for just about 3.5% of total doses administered, according to data published Friday by the CDC.
CNN’s Virginia Langmaid, Deidre McPhillips, Ralph Ellis, Jessica Firger and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.