Fauci: I kept wearing a mask indoors after being vaccinated because I didn't want to give "mixed signals"

Golly, isn’t that what Rand Paul’s been accusing him of for months, wearing a mask after gaining immunity for show rather than for some valid scientific reason? “If you have immunity, they’re theater,” Paul said to him about masks during testimony in March. “If you already have immunity you’re wearing a mask to give comfort to others.” To which Fauci replied, “I totally disagree with you.”

Did he, though? Or did he lie under oath?

Based on this clip from this morning, it sounds like he didn’t totally disagree with Paul after all.

One Twitter pal responded: “‘I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals,’ says man who’s broken more ankles than Allen Iverson.”

The strange thing about Fauci worrying about “mixed signals” is that the CDC has stressed over the past five days that it changed its guidance on masking in response to new data, not randomly or for political reasons. From the Times:

Introducing the new recommendations on Thursday, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the C.D.C. director, cited two recent scientific findings as significant factors: Few vaccinated people become infected with the virus, and transmission seems rarer still; and the vaccines appear to be effective against all known variants of the coronavirus…

One of the lingering concerns among scientists had been that even a vaccinated person might carry the virus — perhaps briefly, without symptoms — and spread it to others. But C.D.C. research, including the new study, has consistently found few infections among those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines…

Other recent studies confirm that people who are infected after vaccination carry too little virus to infect others, said Florian Krammer, a virologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Fauci could have said that to Stephanopoulos. “There was still some lingering doubt about whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus to others, which is why I kept masking. But the new studies we’ve seen eased those doubts so now we know it’s safe for the masks to come off.” Instead his point about “mixed signals” implies that he assumed all along that it was safe for him to unmask but chose not to do so in order to encourage people to keep taking precautions — even those who, like him, had been vaccinated and didn’t need to.

Which does sound like “theater,” come to think of it.

Speaking of theater, what’s up with this photo?

That’s Fauci with his boss, NIH chief Francis Collins, and Dick Durbin, whom we know has been vaccinated because every Democrat in Congress has been. Why are three vaccinated people still masking up outdoors? Even if they were worried that the cameraman wasn’t vaccinated, the CDC says that unvaccinated people can go maskless when they’re around small gatherings of fully vaccinated people outdoors.

Seems like we’re still getting some “mixed signals.”

Tangentially related exit question: What’s up with top scientists at the CDC suddenly resigning after many years on the job? My first-blush reaction to that news was that they must be burned out after 14 months of the pandemic and are seizing on its imminent end as an opportunity to retire. But Politico claims that Rochelle Walensky and Anne Schuchat, who’s on her way out, had butted heads over the last few months so maybe there’s more here than meets the eye. Did Schuchat object to the guidance or the way it was rolled out? Or is it a coincidence that Walensky is suddenly reorganizing parts of the CDC’s vaccine task force?