Some states like Florida, are prohibiting schools from enforcing mask mandates, but discretion should be left to local officials when determining measures they deem necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, particularly with the more contagious delta variant in play, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Monday.
"We should be leaving discretion to local officials to implement measures based on the local spread," Gottlieb told CNBC's "Squawk Box. "Different parts of the country, certainly different states and regions, but even different localities within a state are experiencing this pandemic in very different ways. Tying the hands of local individuals in terms of implementing different measures to respond to local outbreaks is the wrong step right now especially as we contemplate reopening schools. The goal has to be to get schools open and keep them open."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, despite the state having the highest number of new COVID cases in the country, has refused to mandate masks and has blocked school districts from requiring them even while the state also leads the United States in having the most children, based on population, in its hospitals.
Gottlieb on Sunday told CBS News' "Face the Nation" that "no business would do that responsibly and yet that's what we're going to be doing in some schools."
The former commissioner said Monday that schools can't change the behavior they've used to mitigate disease and expect to get the same results it has gotten in the past while protecting children from spreading the disease, especially with the delta variant being so contagious.
"It is inevitably going to be harder to control in the schools," said Gottlieb. "We are taking a sort of alpha mindset into a delta world and it's not going to work. We're going to see that the delta variant is more difficult to control."
Further, the nation's schools may need to kick off this school year with some mitigation measures in place, but many of them are withdrawing measures such as masks, tests, distancing, and using "pods," or small groups of children while teaching, and if that happens, "we can't expect to get the same results in regard to controlling the infection."
Gottlieb also raised concerns about the types of masks that people are wearing, saying that a high-quality cloth mask only allows a level of 20% of protection, a high-quality disposable medical mask allows about 40%, but an N95 or K95 mask allow 95% of protection.
He acknowledged that it may be difficult for children to wear the heavier professional masks, but the lighter masks don't allow "a lot" of protection, and as most people don't wear the lighter masks properly, "They're not getting that level of protection."
Meanwhile, people planning events for this fall may need to think about how they can implement steps to protect their venues and are "probably going to have to take additional measures," said Gottlieb.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.