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Commentary

Fauci Admits He's Been Wearing Masks for Nothing But Optics

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Remember that whole “believe Dr. Fauci” line?

Aside from “follow the science,” it was the second-most parroted piece of non-wisdom wisdom we’ve all heard over the past year. Dr. Fauci would never mislead us, especially on masks. Except for that one time when he said masks wouldn’t be helpful against COVID-19 — but that was early in the virus’ spread and he was trying to ensure our front-liners had PPE. So seriously, listen to Dr. Fauci.

Like, for instance, what Fauci said Tuesday. During an interview with ABC News, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said he was basically wearing a mask indoors solely for optics purposes now that he’s been vaccinated.

“I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals,” Fauci said during the appearance.

“But being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected, in an indoor setting, is extremely low.”

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“And that’s the reason why in indoor settings now, I feel comfortable about not wearing a mask because I’m fully vaccinated,” he added.

As the Washington Examiner pointed out, though, this contradicted testimony that Fauci gave before the Senate on Thursday when he faced off with his mask-policy bête noire, GOP Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Paul was unimpressed that Fauci, a vaccinated man, was fond of double-masking.

“If we’re not spreading the infection, isn’t it just theater?” Paul asked. “If you’ve had the vaccine and you’re wearing two masks, isn’t that theater?”

“No, it’s not — here we go again with the theater,” Fauci said, before arguing the tests Paul had brought up “look at in vitro examination of memory immunity” and the authors “specifically say, ‘This does not necessarily pertain to the actual protection. It’s in vitro.”

“The other thing is, that when you talk about reinfection, and you don’t keep in the concept of variants, that’s an entirely different ballgame. That’s a good reason for a mask,” Fauci continued.

Paul said Fauci was “making policy based on conjecture” and added, “You’ve been vaccinated, and you parade around in two masks for show.”

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“Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective,” Fauci said.

“If you have immunity, they are theater. If you already have immunity, you’re wearing a mask to give comfort to others,” Paul responded.

Less than a week later, Fauci confirmed this to ABC News. Don’t worry, though: The story changed a third time later when he told the podcast “Pod Save America” that the Centers for Disease Control and Protection’s new guidelines that vaccinated individuals don’t have to wear a mask indoors is “not a mandate to take your mask off.”

However, according to The Guardian, this wasn’t necessarily because the masks protected you. He admitted he’d started taking the mask off when he was indoors but conceded there were times he’d put it on — although not because of risk.

“When I am in a situation where people would be uncomfortable with people without masks, I wear a mask,” Fauci said.

Is it time to ditch the masks?

There we go again with theater, as Fauci might like to put it.

Dr. Fauci’s place in history has likely been cemented for his work as the public face of COVID-19 policy. The honor may be well-deserved for the work the doctor did behind the scenes, guiding public health policy and the development of effective treatments and vaccines. However, his work on messaging has been nothing short of a disaster, with adherence breaking down along party lines at best. That’s not because Republicans are obstreperous COVID deniers, but instead because Fauci has been too inconsistent and political to be a credible voice on the pandemic.

“I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals,” Fauci told ABC on Tuesday. Fourteen months after lockdowns began in earnest, it’s a little late for that.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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