Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH. (Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH. (Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Possibility of wearing masks into 2022 to defeat COVID-19: Dr. Fauci

Despite getting vaccinated, masks will be essential

Despite a sharp decline in coronavirus cases and continued success with COVID-19 vaccines, it’s looking likely we will still be wearing masks for some time to come.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s coronavirus czar, said it’s possible masks could be needed until 2022.

“I want it to keep going down to a baseline that’s so low there is virtually no threat,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “If you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe you’re going to be able to say, you know, for the most part, we don’t necessarily have to wear masks.”

Fauci’s comments underscore what experts have been saying for weeks: that even as more people get vaccinated, masks are still going to be essential.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautioned against viewing the downward case trends as a reason to let up on masking and other safety precautions.

In an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association, Walensky said she hoped for the best, but also warned of a worst-case scenario — that people will stop wearing masks and physically distancing too early and that many will prematurely declare they’ve had enough of the pandemic and won’t get vaccinated.

“What worries me a little bit is when you hit September, and then it gets colder again, and there may be a variant that emerges,” and people stop wearing masks and physically distancing, Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told The Times last week.

Basic steps like wearing masks in public and keeping a physical distance from those outside your household will still provide an additional layer of safety, experts say, and help further drive down coronavirus transmission — eventually allowing more parts of the economy to reopen.

READ MORE: Canada’s ‘long-haulers’ without family doctor need primary care: medical association

The CDC says that continued adherence to public health measures like wearing face coverings, observing physical distancing, regular handwashing and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated areas is still recommended even for someone who has received both required vaccine doses.

“It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions,” CDC guidance states, particularly because it’s not yet definitively known “whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself.”

Universal mask wearing, in particular, is seen as critical in keeping the spread of the coronavirus on a downward trend. A recent CDC report found that states that have imposed mask orders have seen declines in the growth of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations.

The new variants have had some health officials urging more precautions with masks.

One way to improve masking is to first put on a paper mask — such as a blue surgical mask — and then put on a tight-fitting cloth mask over that, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. The second mask covers the big gaps that can occur with a paper mask, allowing air to leak around the sides. Another option is to use a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric, according to the CDC.

Here are some other tips:

Using a nose wire — a metal strip at the top of a mask that can be molded to fit the bridge of your nose — can help prevent air from leaking out the top.

Try to make sure air doesn’t flow from the area near your eyes or from the mask’s sides. “If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath,” the CDC says.

Knotting the ear loops at the mask’s edge, and folding and tucking excess mask material under the edges, can help improve the fit. Check out this video instruction.

Use only one KN95 mask at a time. CDC officials say KN95s as well as traditional N95s are intended to be used on their own. Adding extra masks underneath or on top of them “could not only affect how well they fit the face and decrease their effectiveness, but could increase the effort needed to breathe through them,” the CDC said in an email to The Times. The CDC suggests not using N95 masks, saying they “should be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders to prevent supply shortages.”

READ MORE: Isolation and sanitation during COVID-19 may affect human microbiome, scientists say

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

(Black Press file photo)
Charges laid against two suspects in pre-Christmas home invasion

An 88-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bear-sprayed in the face Dec. 18, 2020

Liam and Tyler Spaans, (L-R), are two of the current lifeguards at the Houston Leisure Facility. (Houston Leisure Services file photo)
Leisure facility anticipates need for lifeguards

Has been challenged in the past

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Most Read