Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday he believes external mask mandates are no longer required at this point in the coronavirus pandemic.
“People could choose to wear a mask if they want. I think there shouldn’t be any requirement that they wear masks outdoors,” the former commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration said on Squawk Box.
Public health officials should generally adopt a more relaxed posture when engaging in outdoor activities, said Gottlieb, who is now on the board of directors at Covid vaccine maker Pfizer.
Steps should be taken “to allow more outdoor gatherings, larger groups, sporting events and the like,” he added. “The weather is warming up. We have the ability to take more activity outside. We know that outdoor activity is less of a risk than indoor activity.”
The Chief Medical Officer of the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, agrees with the risk of coronavirus transmission outdoors, and suggested in an interview on Sunday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could change their attitudes about wearing masks outdoors.
“What I think … the country will be hearing soon are updated guidelines from the CDC,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “The CDC is a science-based organization. You don’t want to make guidelines unless you look at the data and back it up. However, if you look at the common sense situation, the risk is obviously very small, especially when You are vaccinated. “
President Joe Biden is expected to announce new CDC guidelines for wearing masks outdoors as early as Tuesday, a source familiar with the discussions told NBC News. However, the source cautioned that the final recommendations are yet to be finalized and will likely provide guidance for people who are fully vaccinated versus those who don’t.
The CDC’s current guidelines on face covering state the following: “Masks may not be required when traveling alone outside of others or with people in your household. However, some areas may have mask mandates when out in public. Please check the rules in your region (e.g. in your city, your district or your state). Also check whether federal mask mandates apply to your whereabouts. “
In their respective mask requirements, several states say people do not need to wear them when they are outdoors and must be at least two meters physically away from anyone who is not in their household.
Gottlieb said he believes it is time to end external mask requirements as vaccination levels drop new coronavirus cases in the US. More than 42% of the US population have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to CDC data, including 28.5% who were fully vaccinated.
As of Monday, the 7-day average of new daily coronavirus infections in the US was 58,160, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That number is down 14% from a week ago.
“The gains we are currently seeing against the virus are solidified by vaccinations and immunity in the population, while before we saw people, they were the result of behaviors that people were more careful about what they were doing,” Gottlieb said . who headed the FDA during the Trump administration. “Now it’s the result of immunity. We can be sure that these will solidify.”