Masks continue to be a source of controversy in the US, specifically for those who have already been vaccinated and are unclear as to the risks and relative benefits. Guidance from the CDC and Biden administration has been contradictory at best.
The face mask has taken on a moral significance, with those who wear it to cover nose and mouth often believing that they are doing it in order to signify their compliance with coronavirus regulations. Mainstream media has been quick to take up the masking charge, and are often seen fully masked despite having been fully vaccinated.
CNN's Jim Acosta previewed an upcoming lifting of restrictions on vaccinated people, saying that it would be "very soon" when the CDC would submit that "The risk when you're outdoors—which we have been saying all along—is extremely low. And if you are vaccinated, it's even lower."
And on Sunday, talking to ABC, Fauci made note of the impending change. "If you're vaccinated, obviously the risk is minuscule," Fauci said, which seemed like a stark reversal from his recent comments that vaccinated people should remain masked around others.
Speaking to ABC, Fauci said that "Obviously the risk is really very low, particularly if you're vaccinated."
As to if the nation is "heading towards normal," Fauci responded that "in some respects we are."
"It really is a challenge," Fauci said. "We have vaccines now."
"The more we take a look at the data as it accumulates, we see it is even more effective than effective than what the initial numbers of the clinical trial."
"And we're doing very well," he said, going on to note that "We now have more than 30 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated."
He encouraged Americans who had received their first vaccine shot to make sure to get the second.
Fauci's take has been one of "abundant caution" throughout the pandemic, though in some cases what he has been cautious about has changed. At the beginning of the pandemic, Fauci had taken up the World Health Organization's advice that masks should not be worn, but he later said this was due to a perceived personal protective equipment supply shortage.
Fauci had also previously recommended "double masking" to ensure a tight fight. He was a vocal opponent of holiday gatherings from Thanksgiving through Christmas.