“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 said.
Fauci added that it is “conceivable” that during seasonal periods where respiratory-borne viruses such as the flu are prevalent, people might decide in the next year or two to wear masks to diminish the possibility of either spreading or catching these diseases.
Fauci’s remarks come about two weeks after federal health officials said fully vaccinated people can go without masks outdoors when walking, jogging, biking or dining at outdoor restaurants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued to recommend masking in crowded outdoor settings and venues such as stadiums and concerts where it was difficult to maintain social distance and where many unvaccinated people could be present.
The announcement brought a sense of relief to pandemic-weary Americans after more than a year of shutdown measures and mandatory use of masks. But even before the CDC’s announcement, states such as Kentucky had begun easing mask use outdoors, while governments in Mississippi and Texas lifted the restriction altogether.
Some have even questioned the science behind it, alluding to misinformation as mask-wearing has proven to be effective in reducing the risk of infection.
Political standoffs sowed confusion about when and where to wear them.
The United States has administered at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine to 58 percent of the nation’s adult population, according to CDC data. But the pace has slowed over the past few weeks and states have reported a decline in demand, prompting state and federal officials to find incentives for people to get the shot.
That decline in demand for the vaccine has coincided with major cities preparing to fully reopen ahead of summer.
On Sunday, Fauci adjusted that timeline for a return to normalcy in an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” predicting that it could be achieved by Mother’s Day of next year. He emphasized that such a timetable would be possible only if an “overwhelming proportion” of the population gets vaccinated.
“I hope that next Mother’s Day, we’re going to see a dramatic difference than what we’re seeing right now. I believe that we will be about as close to back to normal as we can,” Fauci said.