Realistically, how else could it have been interpreted? Watch this short clip, then read on.
.@NIAIDNews Director Anthony Fauci: "People are misinterpreting that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone.”
Join Fauci and @pfizer CEO @AlbertBourla TODAY at 12:30pm ET #AxiosEvents Presented by @PhRMA REGISTER: https://t.co/Y64xHfxN8o pic.twitter.com/nEKQuWldj5
— Axios (@axios) May 19, 2021
We never said that the unvaccinated should unmask, Fauci notes. Right, but what did the CDC think would happen when it announced that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors? Sixty percent of the adult U.S. population has now received its first dose. That’s a lot of people for a state or city official to disappoint by insisting that they should go on masking up even after the CDC has said it’s unnecessary. Deep blue states like New Jersey, California, and Hawaii can get away with it since they’re mostly Democratic and Democrats tend to be overcautious about COVID. But any politician who has to answer to a mixed electorate is going to sweat at the thought of continuing to require masks.
I think this theory of what Fauci’s up to is correct. Instead of the CDC consulting with states before announcing the new guidance so that they could figure out how they wanted to play it in terms of easing restrictions, the agency surprised the country by announcing out of the blue last Thursday that the vaccinated could now unmask. That had the unintended effect of signaling that the pandemic was effectively over, which predictably led to many states and cities dropping their mandates. Now we’re in a situation where the vaccinated and unvaccinated, who are more risk-tolerant, are able to mingle freely in many indoor spaces, raising the risk that the unvaxxed will get infected. That’s what Fauci’s worried about, trying to put the genie back into the bottle somehow by getting states and cities to require the unvaccinated to keep masking up.
Except, without vaccine passports, there’s no way to do that. If we’re all on the honor system about our vaccination status and we’re supposed to relax our rules to suit the vaccinated then the effect of the new CDC policy is to tell the unvaccinated that they’re now responsible for managing their own risk. Society will no longer do it for them in the form of mass restrictions that apply to everyone. Viewed that way, how did states and cities “misinterpret” the guidance by easing their mask mandates? Seems like they drew the logical conclusion from it.
Now Fauci and the feds are worried about what might happen with most mask mandates gone. How did they fail to anticipate this problem before the CDC made its announcement?
Two public-health experts note today in an op-ed for Time that it’s not quite true that all adults have had a meaningful chance to get vaccinated yet. Most have, but…
The implication is that vaccines are now available to all and its up to people to get them, but the reality of the U.S. vaccination efforts is that just one third of Americans are fully vaccinated. Coming only four weeks since eligibility for vaccination was extended to all aged 16 years and older, it makes one wonder if the CDC has forgotten that it takes two to six weeks (depending on which vaccine is used) for a person to become fully vaccinated.
It is simply not the case that anyone who wants the vaccine can easily get their shots. For example, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Latinx adults in the U.S. are around twice as likely as white adults to say they want to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Yet a high proportion of Latinx adults face an array of access barriers, including fear of jeopardizing their jobs by taking time off to get vaccinated, concerns they may be challenged over their immigration status, or worries that they will have to pay for the doses because they’re not sure if it’s free for everyone (it is) or not. Fewer resources have been targeted towards offering vaccination to the most vulnerable counties, those characterized by “high poverty rates, crowded housing and poor access to transportation, among other factors,” according to Amy Harmon and Josh Holder at the New York Times. As a result, there is a widening gap in the vaccination rate between the most and least vulnerable counties.
Here’s that KFF data they mention. Some people want to get their shots but haven’t been able to get time off work to deal with side effects, in case they have any:
🚨🚨"nearly three in ten (28%) employed adults who [are] not yet ready to get the vaccine say that they would be more likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine if their employer gave them paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects"https://t.co/ENByYhuZrx
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) May 18, 2021
We can hope and trust that the share of unvaccinated people who want to be immunized but haven’t had a chance yet will continue to mask up in public spaces. But even if they do, their risk of being infected anyway is destined to rise as they come into contact with unvaccinated people who have unmasked because they don’t care about COVID or about the possibility of infecting others. Should states and cities have kept their mandates in place for a few more weeks to protect that “willing but can’t get time off” slice of the unvaxxed? Or, as the authors note, to protect the people who became eligible to get their shots only within the past month and haven’t had time to complete the full six-week course of full immunity?
Here’s Fauci’s friend Rand Paul responding last night to his latest damaging admission, that he’s been wearing masks indoors until recently mainly as a form of theater. Exit quotation from Justin Amash: “Dr. Fauci has now been on every side of the debate over whether masks are beneficial or not beneficial, necessary for those with immunity or unnecessary, theater or not theater.”
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 18, 2021