May 18, 2021: -On Monday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he expects more Americans to stop wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus in the coming weeks.
“By June, nobody is going to be wearing masks. By June, I think, the prevalence is going to be sufficiently low in this country, and we’re just not going to be concerned about it,” the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner said on CNBC.
Gottlieb commented after back-and-forth about how the updated mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention impacts young children who are not much eligible to receive the Covid vaccine.
Kids from 12 to 15 years became eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the previous week.
While he’s entirely vaccinated, Gottlieb said he wears a mask this weekend while shopping with his young children. He said he no longer risks Covid but has no problem wearing a mask for the time being when he’s with them.
On Thursday, the CDC said in most indoor and outdoor settings, entirely vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face-covering or maintain six feet of social distance from others. Masks are still required on airplanes and public transportation, according to the federal rule.
States and localities also are still able to set their policies around face coverings. New Jersey, for instance, intends to keep its indoor mask requirement in place. By contrast, states like North Carolina and Ohio relaxed their mask rules for entirely vaccinated people after the CDC guidance.
Major retailers like Walmart, Costco, Target, and Starbucks have also dropped face-covering requirements for entirely vaccinated customers, except in places where local rules still necessitate them.
The CDC has defended its new recommendations despite causing some confusion and concern. Critics worry that it will encourage people who are not vaccinated to go without a mask.
“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,” said Gottlieb, which led the FDA in the Trump administration from the year 2017 to 2019.
On Sunday, 47% of the U.S. population has received at least one Covid vaccine dose, while 37% is entirely vaccinated, according to CDC data.
New coronavirus infections in the U.S. remain in decline, which is the reason Gottlieb believes the CDC mask guidance is appropriate.
According to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, the seven-day average of new daily coronavirus cases is around 33,200. That’s down 19% from a week ago, continuing a sharp drop that’s taken place since the month of April, at which point the daily average of new cases was more than 71,000.
“I think prevalence is collapsing around the country, and we’re going to be at a point where there’s a minimal infection, and the individual risk to a person is low if you’re dealing with an otherwise immunocompetent person,” Gottlieb said.
At the same time, people who choose to wear a mask should not be derided even when it’s not required, said Gottlieb.
“I think it should be encouraged. I think it should be supported. People are going to have to make individual choices about their risk,” Gottlieb added.