Dr. Anthony Fauci is coming around on the idea of a national mask mandate.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been wary of a rule from the federal government requiring Americans to wear a mask when they are outside their home, previously calling such ideas “authoritarian” and questioning whether they would work at all. But in a recent interview with CNN, Fauci changed his tune.
“If people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it," Fauci said.
The shift comes as the US is facing a massive spike in coronavirus cases and deaths. New cases rose or remained steady in 49 of 50 states on Friday, with over 75,000 new infections and 800 deaths reported across the country. Fauci said that we need to take on the difficult task of enforcing masking if we’re going to slow the pandemic.
"There's going to be a difficulty enforcing it, but if everyone agrees that this is something that's important and they mandate it and everybody pulls together and says, you know, we're going to mandate it but let's just do it, I think that would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly," he said.
It's unclear whether there will be any action from the federal government on the matter, however, as President Donald Trump seems deeply uninterested in the pandemic problem. Fauci recently revealed that Trump had not attended any of the pandemic task force meetings in months.
Fauci’s change of heart comes as the New York Times shared a study that found proper masking could reduce the number of COVID-19 deaths by 130,000 over the next several months.