NIH chief’s ‘misspeak’ on parents wearing masks at home goes too far, even for Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases pushed back on his boss, NIH Director Francis Collins, on Tuesday after the latter said parents should wear masks at home around their kids under certain circumstances as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread.

“Parents of unvaccinated kids should be thoughtful about it, and the recommendation is to wear masks there, as well,” Collins said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day,” suggesting that home is no place to unmask under those circumstances.

“I know that’s uncomfortable, I know that seems weird, but it’s the best way to protect your kids.”

But in pushback that is likely to add to the oft-confusing messaging coming out of the Biden administration regarding COVID-19 recommendations, Fauci appeared on CNN later in the day to refute Collins.

“It’s very simple. He misspoke. He’s a person of high integrity and he came out with the tweet and said, ‘I apologize, I misspoke, I got it wrong,'” Fauci told host Erin Burnett. “Parents do not need to wear masks in their own home. That is the right answer. Dr. Collins said his misspoke, and I give him great credit for admitting it very, very quickly.”

Later, Collins took to Twitter after his interview to “clarify” his remarks.

“Let me clarify the masking message that I garbled on @NewDay this morning. Vaccinated parents who live in communities with high COVID transmission rates should mask when out in public indoor settings to minimize risks to their unvaccinated kids. No need to mask at home,” he wrote.

Collins, in his interview, also said that the new variant appears to be impacting kids more than the original COVID strain.

“It’s clear that this variant is capable of causing serious illness in children,” Collins said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day.” “You have heard those stories coming out of Louisiana, pediatric ICUs where there are kids as young as a few months old who are sick from this.

“That is rare,” Collins admitted. “Certainly, young people are less likely to fall ill. But anybody who tries to tell you, ‘Ah, you don’t have to worry about it if you’re a young, healthy person,’ there’s many counter-examples all around us.”

Continuing, he said, “That’s why the recommendations are for kids under 12 that they avoid being in places that they might get infected, which means recommendations of mask-wearing in schools and at home.

But despite Collins’ mea culpa and Fauci’s covering for his boss, social media users were railing at both men for another conflicting messaging campaign.

Warning: Strong language 

“LOL what a s**tshow,” Washington Examiner correspondent Jerry Dunleavy wrote.

He added: “The NIH Director going out & freelancing about how vaccinated parents should wear masks in their own freaking houses around their kids — something the CDC has not recommended now & did not even recommend back when there no vaccines! — only for Fauci to walk it back is just wild.”

“This is nonsensical. Unvaccinated kids are already at lower risk than nearly all vaccinated adults. Have you looked at the numbers?” Phil Kerpen, head of free-market advocacy group American Commitment, noted.

“‘Clarify.’ You really mean that you were told that you’re utterly unhinged,” another user wrote.

“Don’t worry. It made about as much sense as anything NIH or CDC has had to say since March 2020,” wrote another.

“It’s a problem that you and the CDC are sending too many mixed messages. Have a highly skilled spokesperson be the person to relay clear messages. Agency heads should not be spokespeople,” said another.

To poke fun, Grabien founder and editor Tom Elliott also posted a video clip of Collins singing a song about COVID to the tune of “Puff The Magic Dragon.”

Jon Dougherty

Comments

Latest Articles