CDC Lifts Mask Mandate for the Vaccinated; Fauci Says It May be an Incentive for People to Get Shots

By Susan Jones | May 14, 2021 | 6:23am EDT
(Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Joe Biden called Thursday a "great day" for fully vaccinated Americans who no longer need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors. The unvaccinated must still wear a mask, under the sudden new guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not only did Thursday's announcement distract from the multiple crises facing the White House (war in the Middle East, a gasoline supply disruption, rising inflation, a falling stock market, an overwhelmed southern border where babies are dropped alone in the desert) -- it also serves as incentive to boost vaccinations.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday the pandemic is not over, but the lifting of the mask mandate "is a very important step in the direction of trying to get back to some degree of normality, because this is something that everyone has had on their mind."

Tapper asked Fauci what he would say to people who wonder, "This is too much, too soon -- most of the country is still not vaccinated, you're rushing the process here."

"Well, again, you want to explain to them the rationale of what we're doing," Fauci said:

We want virtually everybody to get vaccinated. What we're doing now with the relaxation of the restrictions on people who are vaccinated is trying to get back to a degree of normality which people who get vaccinated deserve to have that.

That's been one of the things that's been the concern, saying, if I get vaccinated, what difference is it going to make? My life hasn't really changed that much. Well, now your life is going to change that much.

For people who are not vaccinated, this might be an incentive for them to get vaccinated. The decision that the CDC made was not as an incentive to get people vaccinated, but this could actually have the indirect effect of getting people to be incentivized to get vaccinated.

Fauci said unvaccinated children still need to wear a mask "when they're out there playing with their friends and, you know, and -- particularly in an indoor situation, they do."

Vaccines have just this week been approved for children 12 and older.

Fauci said the federal government will not mandate "vaccine passports," so "you're going to be depending on people being honest enough to say whether they were vaccinated or not."  Airlines and private establishments may still require masks.

Fauci noted that infections are decreasing in the United States: "They're averaging about 36,000 a day right now, which has gone down about a third. As you mentioned, 58 percent of people have at least one dose -- shot of a vaccine, and greater than 40 percent are fully vaccinated, so the situation has changed," he said.

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