SAN ANTONIO – Face coverings could become the go-to protection from respiratory-born illnesses like the flu after the coronavirus pandemic, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
Fauci joined NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday and said face masks could become seasonal as data has proven they guard against contracting viruses.
“We’ve had practically a nonexistent flu season this year merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominantly against COVID-19,” Fauci told anchor Chuck Todd.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seasonal flu activity is lower than usual for this time of the year.
Fauci said during the seasons that during certain seasons when respiratory-born viruses are common, people may elect to stick with wearing face masks.
Also on Sunday, Fauci told ABC News’ “This Week” that he was open to “more liberal” guidelines for indoor mask requirements as more people get vaccinated.
“As you get more people vaccinated, the number of cases per day will absolutely go down,” he said. “We’re averaging about 43,000 (new case) a day. We’ve got to get it much, much lower than that. When that gets lower, the risk of any infection indoor or outdoor diminishes dramatically.”
The CDC eased mask guidelines in late April by saying fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear face coverings outdoors unless they are in a crowd of strangers.
Fauci’s comments came after the CDC updated its guidance on Friday to explicitly say that people could inhale droplets and small particles containing the virus if they’re closer than six feet apart from an infected person.
The CDC says COVID-19 is mainly spread by inhaling infected air, by having droplets land on your eyes, nose or mouth, or by touching your eyes, nose or mouth with virus-contaminated hands.
The CDC previously said the virus was mainly transmitted by close contact.