On anniversary of Fauci’s controversial statement on masks, CDC study reveals actual impact

One year ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief immunologist, made what would become one of the most controversial claims about the then-spreading COVID-19 pandemic regarding the wearing of masks.

During an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Fauci, now serving as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, downplayed the use of masks as a means of preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

At the time, Fauci told interviewer Jon LaPook there was “no reason to be walking around with a mask.”

“When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face,” Fauci, who has dealt with viral outbreaks throughout his lengthy career as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.

Shortly thereafter, LaPook updated viewers that new information about the virus emerged regarding its transmission and as such, health officials and experts, including Fauci, had changed their minds and began recommending masks as one of the best ways to slow transmission and reduce the illness and death tolls.

To that end, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on April 3 and recommended that people begin to wear masks in all public settings.

As such, on April 5, Fauci told CBS’s “Face the Nation” program that he would start recommending that the CDC’s guidelines be followed.

Since, Fauci has become a staunch advocate for non-stop mask-wearing, telling CNN just last month that whether or not Americans will have to continue donning them into 2022 “depends on the level of dynamics of the virus that’s in the community.”

“If you see the level coming down really, really very low, I want it to keep going down to a baseline that’s so low, that there’s virtually no threat – or not no. It’ll never be zero, but a minimal, minimal threat that you will be exposed to someone who is infected,” he said. 

But a new study just published by the CDC indicates that the wearing of masks last year as the pandemic spread throughout the country had minimal impact on sickness and death rates.

“Mandating masks was associated with a decrease in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days of implementation. Allowing on-premises restaurant dining was associated with an increase in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 41–100 days after implementation and an increase in daily death growth rates 61–100 days after implementation,” says a summary of the study.

But a deeper dive into the findings reveals that mask mandates reduced COVID positive by less than 2 percent.

“During March 1–December 31, 2020, state-issued mask mandates applied in 2,313 (73.6%) of the 3,142 U.S. counties. Mask mandates were associated with a 0.5 percentage point decrease (p = 0.02) in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 1–20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.1, 1.5, 1.7, and 1.8 percentage points 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after implementation,” the CDC study says.

“Mask mandates were associated with a 0.7 percentage point decrease…in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 1–20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.0, 1.4, 1.6, and 1.9 percentage points 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after implementation,” the study added.

Nevertheless, the researchers concluded, “mask mandates were associated with statistically significant decreases in county-level daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days of implementation.”

Federal guidelines per the CDC continue to push mask-wearing in public.


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Jon Dougherty


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