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Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s leading infectious-disease expert, told Axios that the public is misinterpreting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement last week that fully vaccinated people can go without masks indoors.

“I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It’s not,” he told Axios. “It’s an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors.”

Fauci emphasized that the health agency did not explicitly tell unvaccinated people to go without masks but instead communicated to vaccinated individuals that they will not get infected indoors or outdoors.

“People either read them quickly, or listen and hear half of it. They are feeling that we’re saying: ‘You don’t need the mask anymore.’ That’s not what the CDC said,” he told the news outlet.

Reaction to the CDC’s guidance has been applauded by those who say it shows the efficacy of vaccinations against the coronavirus and criticized by those who say it is too soon to forgo masks.

Here are some significant developments:

  • India recorded 4,529 covid-19 deaths over the past 24 hours on Wednesday, the highest daily toll of any country since the pandemic began.
  • The European Union has agreed to open its borders to vaccinated American travelers and those from other countries who have been inoculated with accepted vaccines, after more than a year of severely restricting travel into the bloc because of the pandemic.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order on Tuesday that prohibits county, city, school district, and governmental officials from requiring masks.
  • French restaurants, cafes and bars reopened Wednesday after six months, in France’s most significant reopening step this year as case numbers fall.
  • Saudi Arabia will make most public activities conditional on being vaccinated starting Aug. 1, adopting some of the most sweeping rules in the world as many countries contemplate vaccine passports to return to normal life.
  • The United Arab Emirates will now offer third doses of the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine as a booster shot amid concerns over the Chinese-made vaccine’s effectiveness.
  • Fauci said that “it is likely and almost certain” that children under 12 will be able to get vaccinated by next year.