If you’ve been fully vaccinated and you’re outside, you don’t need to wear a mask, Anthony Fauci said Thursday morning.
“If you’re vaccinated and you’re outside, put aside your mask. You don’t have to wear it,” Fauci said during an interview on CBS This Morning.
Fauci’s comments come a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new mask guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated people that some health experts called confusing and overly cautious, especially considering the low transmission rate of the virus outdoors.
Cohost Gayle King, who said she’s been fully vaccinated, expressed her own confusion about the guidelines, telling Fauci about a run-in she had with a stranger on the sidewalk in New York City who had also been fully vaccinated. Both were wearing masks.
King said she asked the woman, “Why are we wearing our masks?” who responded, “I don’t know.”
“I think we all either feel guilty or we feel it’s not time, or we see everybody else doing it,” King said to Fauci. “Do you really think it’s OK? Because I still feel judged, I feel people giving you the side-eye. It’s not comfortable.”
Fauci said the only instance where a fully vaccinated person needs to wear a mask outdoors would be an unusually crowded situation where “people are essentially falling all over each other.”
Among those that called the CDC’s guidance on masks last week too cautious and confusing was Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
On CNN Thursday morning, Wen praised Fauci’s simplicity and directness on the subject as something all Americans “need to hear.”
“The CDC put out this complicated chart with faces and different colors, some with masks and without masks. It was hard to interpret,” Wen said. “I love the directness of what Dr. Fauci said, that if you’re outdoors and vaccinated, there’s no need to wear a mask.
Wen said she would actually go a step further and recommend that no one outdoors — vaccinated or unvaccinated — needs to wear a mask, citing the overwhelmingly low transmission rate outside.
“I think people are just really tired of the pandemic, and we have to give them ways to socialize and be with one another again,” Wen said. “That includes being outdoors, and in the meantime trying to vaccinated so you can also hang with one another indoors.”