Dr. Anthony Fauci is pushing back against the idea that face masks are a “personal choice” in the face of the increasingly severe delta variant of the coronavirus.
The story: Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, made the comments during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” as many states and cities across the U.S. are reinstating some restrictions in light of the surge of coronavirus cases.
What he said: “I respectfully disagree with them,” Fauci said of people who believe that wearing a face covering is a matter of personal freedom.
Fauci suggested that he supports respecting people’s personal choices in most situations but that the pandemic is an exception where a personal decision, in this case, not wearing a face mask, could also affect others.
“There are things that are individual responsibilities that one has, and there are things that have to do with you individually which also impact others, and the spread of infection that we’re seeing now … is impacting everyone in the country,” he said.
“Although you want to respect a person’s individual right, when you’re dealing with a public health situation, and we are in fact in a very serious public health challenge here … a person’s individual decision to not wear a mask not only impacts them … but you very well may infect another person who may be vulnerable,” he added.
Fauci also accused the unvaccinated or “propagation and spread of the outbreak.”
“From the standpoint of illness, hospitalization and suffering death, the unvaccinated are the much more vulnerable because the vaccinated are protected against serious illness for the most part,” he said. “But when you look at the country as a whole, the unvaccinated by not being vaccinated are allowing the propagation and spread of the outbreak, which ultimately impacts everyone.”
The numbers: The United States on Thursday reported around 80,000 new coronavirus cases which are up from the average number of 10,000 daily cases from a month ago. The number is also much lower than the nearly 300,000 daily cases it was recorded in January.
Health officials insist that the only way to get rid of the pandemic and the restrictions that come with it is for people to get vaccinated.
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