NO: It’s been recently reminded to us by the White House that you advised against people wearing masks in public, and, of course, that was due to the surge because the concern was about saving PPEs for medical professionals. Do you regret that comment?
A F: No. I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct. We were told in our task force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for the health providers who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to take care of sick people. That’s what the dialogue was in the task force meetings, which led all of us, not just me but also [U.S. Surgeon General] Jerome Adams, to say, “Right now we really need to save the masks for the people who need them most.” When it became clear that we could get the infection could be spread by asymptomatic carriers who don’t know they’re infected, that made it very clear that we had to strongly recommend masks. And also, it soon became clear that we had enough protective equipment and that cloth masks and homemade masks were as good as masks that you would buy from surgical supply stores. So in the context of when we were not strongly recommending it, it was the correct thing. But our knowledge changed and our realization of the state of the outbreak changed…
NO: And how long do you see yourself at the NIA?
A F: I don’t see any termination within the near future because I judge [my career] by my energy and my effectiveness. And right now, with all due modesty, I think I’m pretty effective. I certainly am energetic. And I think everybody thinks I’m doing more than an outstanding job. I have a wife with incredibly good judgment, who will probably give me the signal when it’s time to step down. But I don’t think we’re anywhere near that right now.