Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, says he believes that Americans will no longer wear COVID-19 face masks by June.
"By June, I think the prevalence of it is going to be sufficiently low in this country and we’re just not going to be concerned about it," he told CNBC, talking about COVID-19. Gottlieb said he wore a mask while shopping with his young children this past weekend even though he has been fully vaccinated.
"What’s the downside of keeping it on?" Gottlieb told CNBC’s "Squawk Box." "I would probably keep a mask on my kids a little bit longer. Another week or two." Gottlieb led the FDA during the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the expanded usage of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to include 12-15 year-old kids. And on Thursday, the CDC announced that is no longer necessary for fully vaccinated people to wear masks in most indoor settings. However, masks are still required on airplanes and public transportation, says CNBC. Kids will still have to wear masks to attend in-person school and hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings would also require face coverings.
However, states and local areas can still set their own guidelines. New Jersey decided to stick with its indoor mask rule, while other states such as Texas and North Carolina agreed to follow the relaxed, updated CDC guidelines for full vaccinated individuals. And major retailers across the country dropped their face mask regulations. Target, Starbucks, and Costco said they would allow customers to shop maskless.
Many critics are concerned that Americans who are not fully vaccinated will now forego their masks because of the new CDC guidelines. Gottlieb said they would probably do so anyway.
"People who are going to go maskless now were going to go maskless anyway post when these mandates lifted and still choose not to get vaccinated," he told CNBC.
According to the CDC Data Tracker, 47.3% of the total U.S. population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines and 37% have been fully vaccinated as of 8 p.m. Sunday. New coronavirus cases are declining, and Gottlieb said that the CDC decision to relax mask-wearing mandates was appropriate.
"I think prevalence is really collapsing around the country, and we’re going to be at a point where there is very little infection and the individual risk to a person is low if you’re dealing with an otherwise immunocompetent person," said Gottlieb. But he added that people with underlying health conditions or who may be immunocompromised should take whatever precaution they deem necessary to protect themselves. Even if they are vaccinated, they may decided to wear their mask in a high-risk indoor setting.
"I think it should be encouraged," Gottlieb told CNBC. "I think it should be supported. People are going to have to make individual decisions about their risk."
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