Dr. Fauci: People can now choose to wear masks during flu season post-Covid

US House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hybrid hearing on “Reaching the Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Science-Driven Approach to Swiftly and Safely Ending the Pandemic”

Dr. Anthony Fauci spent the weekend blanketing news programs to discuss the state of the pandemic specifically in the US. More than 150 million vaccine doses have been injected into American arms, and many states now have an over-50% vaccination rate. Fauci has been trying to mix in some optimism with his constant warnings to continue to take mask-wearing and social distancing seriously. When he spoke to ABC News, he said flat out that in the coming weeks and months, more states will be relaxing their indoor mask requirements as vaccination numbers skyrocket. But Fauci made a different point when he spoke to Meet the Press: many Americans can and should choose to wear masks from here on out depending on what season it is.

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said Sunday that the U.S. is unlikely to see a surge of COVID-19 infections over the fall and winter like it did last year, pointing to the widespread availability of vaccines as a “game changer” that would prevent future surges.

“Well, the fact that we have vaccines right now, Chuck, is really a game changer,” Fauci told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I mean, if we get, which we will, to the goals that the president has established, namely if we get 70 percent of the people vaccinated by the Fourth of July, namely one single dose, and even more thereafter, you may see blips. But if we handle them well, it is unlikely that you’ll see the kind of surge that we saw in the late fall and the early winter. That’s the reason why vaccinations are so important. That’s the wild card that we have now that we didn’t have last fall or last winter.”

Dr. Fauci also said Sunday that people may decide to wear masks during certain seasons when respiratory illnesses are more prevalent.

“I think people have gotten used to the fact that wearing masks, clearly if you look at the data it diminishes respiratory diseases, we’ve had practically a non-existent flu season this year merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominately against Covid-19,” Fauci said during an interview on NBC Sunday program “Meet the Press.”

“So it is conceivable that as we go on a year or two or more from now that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you’ll spread these respiratory borne diseases,” he added.

[From CNBC and The Hill]

I’ve been thinking about that a lot, whether I’ll continue to wear masks during, say, the flu season, or when I know I’m going to be around a lot of people indoors. One of the things which makes so much sense is to simply wear a mask all the time when you’re in the grocery store. It comes naturally now, and I honestly don’t want to STOP wearing masks in grocery stores so I’m not going to for a while. As for wearing masks during the flu season – flu season lasts forever so I’m not sure how much people will adhere to that, but I genuinely hope that people have a new respect for getting vaccines now, so maybe more people will get their flu shots.

As for the idea that we could get through this coming fall and winter without another Covid surge… whew, that feels so good. I bet a lot of us Moderna and Pfizer-vaccinated people will need booster shots this fall though!

White House Briefing

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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61 Responses to “Dr. Fauci: People can now choose to wear masks during flu season post-Covid”

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  1. Lola says:

    Nothing is worse than having strangers’ hot nasty breath on me, especially during cold and flu season. I’ll wear masks forever and I really hope others in my area continue to do so when they’re sick from now on!

    • Snazzy says:

      I’ll definitely keep wearing them in the spring during hay fever season – usually mine is off the charts but while I suffered a bit this year, it was much less severe than in the past. And definitely in crowded places – supermarkets, trains, planes.

    • Joan Rivers says:

      When I worked at the front desk of a non-profit w/counseling clients and other guests coming and going, I had the flu and colds all the time. Much more than in regular offices.

      Masks would have helped.
      I wish we’d go to clear masks, though, so we could see each others’ faces. It would still help even if not quite as good as cloth ones.

      And, having ridden the NY subway, I can picture masks for all. Always.

      What comments here show is that the politicization of “masks” is such BS compared to real-life experiences. We can SEE the reality!

  2. Becks1 says:

    I so enjoyed not getting sick this year. My kids didn’t get so much as a cold. We’re all dealing with allergies currently, and those are rough, but no colds, no strep, no flu – it’s been a relief.

    I don’t know if I will continue to wear a mask full time once we’re given the all clear, but I can def see myself wearing one if i’m going somewhere crowded, like Costco or the grocery store.

    • rainbowkitty says:

      My son (5) has asthma. Every year since he was an infant we end up in the ER for a severe astham attack due to flu season. Almost every October sometimes December. This year he didn’t even catch a cold. This is a kid with a history of bronciolitis since birth. We’ll continue with masks during flu season.

      • Zantasia says:

        I’m so sorry, RainbowKitty. How terrifying! I plan on continuing to get the flu vaccine for the whole family and wearing masks when in the grocery store, etc., during flu season.

      • Imara219 says:

        Same! My son (3) has asthma and every year he has a major bug that knocks him completely out, exasperated by respiratory issues. This year he was fine. I think it’s a combo of the mask and not being out as much and a daycare with only 3 other kids. He has had an illness every year since he’s been born and was hospitalized for it a couple of times when he was younger.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        Wow, I am certainly sorry for all of you parents out there wit children that have asthma as I have seen first hand how scary and debilitating it can be.
        As a person with autoimmune disorder, I plan to wear a mask from now on while I am in public. I didn’t get the flu this year, and I always get a shot, and I was thankful as it always kicks my ass for about 2-3 weeks.

  3. Christina says:

    Yep, I’ll stick to wearing masks on the subway and on buses, when this whole thing ends. Maybe inside stores, too. I haven’t had a cold since the pandemic started, which was nice (but I did have Covid, so lol).

    • BayTampaBay says:

      I am going to stick with masking-up in any stores and at church.

    • tealily says:

      Well, as we all found out, COVID is much easier to catch and spread. At least you didn’t get it on top of the flu! Hope you’re feeling better now.

      I, too, will continue masking on public transportation.

    • Traveler says:

      Yes, I agree.
      I’ve said it before – I will continue to wear a mask on public transport, planes, and at crowded indoor locations. I just can’t imagine traveling (especially overseas) without a mask now (ever?).

  4. fluffy_bunny says:

    I get very sick when I get the flu. I’ve even been hospitalized due to it. I get the flu shot and am super careful during flu season. If I feel the slightest bit off I take my temperature and it I have a fever I head to the doctor to get tested and get antivirals. I will keep the masks during flu season.

  5. Lizzie says:

    Won’t booster shots be needed before and during flue season? I won’t count on everyone getting a booster. I’m going with one more winter of having groceries delivered. I still go to the grocery store and I will wait and see what the rates are in my area but I’m ready to wear my mask next fall/winter.

    • fluffy_bunny says:

      I heard boosters are needed around a year from the first dose.

      • Lizzie says:

        I last heard 6 months – but I hope 1 year is correct!

      • Korra says:

        Speculation is all over the place because Moderna and Pfizer have projected different timelines — Moderna forecasts 6 months while Pfizer says 12. But ultimately, this is still being studied and is an unknown at this point. Both could be correct as they are basing their forecasts on data from their own vaccine.

    • paranormalgirl says:

      I’ll get whatever boosters are offered.

      • Traveler says:

        Same. No problem with needing to get a booster.
        I have a friend whining about how sick she is of needles. She can’t believe she’ll need a booster now. All I could think of was……….really, how about being in awe of the fact that we have a life-saving vaccine at our disposal in record time, how about that……..but to each his own I guess.

  6. Ohreally says:

    I found it so challenging after returning from Asia, where people had the common courtesy to wear masks WHEN THEY FELT POORLY TO PROTECT OTHERS, that it was looked at so oddly in the States. That not sharing your GERMS was so harmful to your soul. People coughing out into the air and calling it allergies that somehow convert to the flu after it lands on me. Masks are uncomfortable? So are your germs. I remember someone with a “cold” visiting someone in the hospital with a very touch and go pregnancy. The mother caught the “allergies” and lost the baby. It’s probably rare, but how much would it have cost that ALLERGY person to think about others and stay home on general principle? The poor thing wouldn’t have imagined that outcome, but she was being thoughtless so it escalated. We can’t be perfect, but staying home or wearing a mask when you must go out while feeling poorly is the literal floor (that currently is lava).

    • BayTampaBay says:

      People in the USA are just selfish.

      They may call it individuality and/or freedom and/or exercising their free will but is really just pure selfishness.

      • Seraphina says:

        Yes indeed. I know a woman who had COVID and her son has underlying issues and she throws a sh!& fit about wearing masks. I don’t understand it.

    • Brittany says:

      Completely agree. A minimum 50% of my fellow Americans are wholly selfish jerks with zero consideration for others. It is unbelievable to witness. I’m guessing these are the same people who don’t wash their hands, don’t like to be confined by seatbelts, don’t “believe in” science and medicine, don’t want to use condoms, worry Biden will take away their high cholesterol and heart attacks etc. It would be a joke if it weren’t so real.

    • Lizzie says:

      There are many countries where people are demonstrating against mandating masks. I agree it’s selfish jerks but not just American.
      I was watching a documentary about the Spanish Flu and apparently some people revolted against masks then too. Funny nobody asks there surgeon to remove his/her mask because freedom.

    • Christine says:

      My son’s school is in Koreatown in LA, so we have long been used to people wearing masks around us, pre-Covid, and they look so much smarter than the rest of us now. I won’t go back to maskless in stores.

    • Betsy says:

      My MIL brought the stomach flu to me in the hospital when I had my first. Developing norovirus while my milk came in and I struggled to recover from a huge baby pregnancy and abdominal surgery almost put me back in the hospital and I will never forgive her for the setbacks that caused me (and could have caused my child who was already in the NICU) for weeks after.

      I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I had lost the pregnancy or baby because of her choices.

  7. nicegirl says:

    I’m good on masking into the future as well. Especially at the grocery, on mass transit, etc.

  8. Snuffles says:

    Wearing masks year round is quite common in Asia. Unlike Americans, the citizens care about public health. People wear masks when they are sick or even think they are getting sick. It’s so common they make it fashionable.

    I will definitely be wearing my mask when I’m out and about running errands for the foreseeable future. Especially during cold and flu season.

    • Trillion says:

      Asia has had far more experience with respiratory disease outbreaks than we have in the States and live more densely. And millions of Americans care about public health -but that fact doesn’t get clicks.

    • Lizzie says:

      I always thought year round masks in Asia was mostly due to heavy smog.

      • TaraBest says:

        When wildfires were spreading up the west coast last September I was glad to already be wearing masks. There are so many benefits I don’t see myself getting rid of them completely, even if COVID becomes a non-factor.

  9. Seraphina says:

    My friend and I commented about flu season being non-existent this past year. There is the other aspect that many of us were home and not crammed into cubicles working 9 hours a day in old buildings without proper ventilation.
    I have heard many say they will continue mask use in the winter and when they travel. I will continue to wear mine until my entire family is vaccinated.
    On another note, he looks so much more relaxed and happier these past few months.

  10. Cate says:

    I’m fine with continuing to mask while shopping or on transit. But I do hope at some point to be able to relax and watch a movie in theater and I do think the mask would be a distraction there. Hopefully if enough people are vaccinated stuff like that will be okay.

    • Ang says:

      How is a mask a “distraction” in a movie theater?

      • Seraphina says:

        I think because we are so used to mindlessly stuffing food in our faces and sipping on sodas and well, with a mask you can’t. That would be my guess.
        Personally, I have no desire to be in a movie theater with people who are without masks. I would rather wait at home to rent and relax on my sofa with my popcorn and drink of choice. I can even pause the movie to go the bathroom.

  11. Lightpurple says:

    I have not had a cold in over a year. I live in a predominantly Asian neighborhood that has been masking up for years pre-Covid so I won’t look out of place wearing one on the bus and train when restrictions are lifted.

  12. KNy says:

    I hope the biggest thing that changes is that people wear a mask when they feel sick at all, common cold, flu, you name it. I’ve had to go to work sick on multiple occasions pre-COVID (not the kind of job you could just take off unless you were dying) and would wear a mask and try my best to stay away from people as best I could. It’s horrible that the culture of one of my old jobs was like, “You just threw up? Here, I have some Zofran. Take one and let me know if you need more.”

    Also, I love that picture of Fauci. It looks like he just flipped his long hair and is tucking it behind his ear. He’s too adorable.

  13. Midge says:

    This is what happened in Asia after SARS-CoV-1. (By the way, COVID is SARS-CoV-2)
    I will definitely continue to wear a mask on public transportation and in grocery stores. It makes sense!

  14. Emm says:

    I was recently in a very large city out and about for the first time since this started, I’m now fully vaccinated and still wore a mask outside when walking from place to place. Coming from my maga county which is only about an hour away and seeing everyone wearing masks indoors and almost 90% outdoors was amazing. It was like a different world. No one puts up a fight or makes a big deal and everyone just does their thing. It’s amazing to me that all of these people that seem to find masks so inconvenient and much too uncomfortable to be worth keeping people safe all live in red counties and towns, weird. Also, walking around with the cold wind and having a mask on was really nice.

    Also, my state is at the bottom of the list of % of population that’s been vaccinated and I don’t expect that to change and it’s the worst feeling since the states around us are doing much better.

  15. pottymouth pup says:

    Pfizer and Moderna should both have 1 year follow up data on at least 10K participants initially randomized to active vaccine in their trials by the end of the summer (and already have 6-9 months follow up on 15K+) to know if people need boosters at less than 1 year intervals. Unless we’re seeing reports that the current formulations aren’t effective against newer strains, I’m not sure I’d expect a call to for people vaccinated 1Q21 to start getting COVID boosters in September (that’s when folks should be looking to start getting their annual flu shot tho)

  16. Amelie says:

    I haven’t been sick since June 2019. A lot if it was due to being unemployed and not being in an office and having moved out of NYC. Then COVID hit and I really was stuck at home and then masks became the norm. So I think I’ll definitely be masking up on public transportation, the grocery store, restaurants for awhile. Even when COVID is but a distant memory, I’ll still wear masks on planes and such. I always seem to get sick when I travel and planes are germ factories. If anything good has come out of COVID, I’m really glad it has normalized mask wearing. I used to be suspicious when I saw mostly Asian tourists in NYC wearing masks out and about but not anymore! I totally get it now.

  17. Myjobistoprincess says:

    My plan is to continue wearing a mask starting in October to maybe march, when i’m in public places or where there’s more people. I have not been sick this year, neither have all my family. That is great and it was fairly simple to avoid: a mask.

  18. nicegirl says:

    And if I’m feeling under the weather at all ever again and cannot avoid going out, I will absolutely be masked up.

  19. EM says:

    As someone who takes public transportation, I will definitely be wearing a mask, post-corona. I wish others would as well. The flu is more deadly than people think.

  20. ME says:

    I don’t understand why this wasn’t always done? Why were we ok with people getting really sick or dying from the flu each year? We should all be wearing masks during cold/flu season.

    • Christin says:

      Completely agree. Society has behaved as if flu is no big issue, when clearly masking and distancing work. We shouldn’t stand within inches of others in checkout lines, etc.

      • ME says:

        Hopefully all the Covid restrictions at grocery stores and other places remain. The “6 feet” stickers and the pexiglass at the cash register are good things and need to stay forever.

  21. Alexandria says:

    No thanks. My country is in the middle of vaccination and we will continue to wear masks for a long time, unless eating and doing strenuous exercise. It’s very humid here but we can’t afford to have another lockdown so masks are staying. We don’t have a huge domestic economy and rely heavily on international trade, labour and tourism. Also the Indian and UK variants have reached our shores so we still have some way to go.

  22. Willow says:

    Every time I have flown on an airplane, someone in our family has gotten sick. And spread it to whomever we were visiting. So that is one place I will 100% guaranteed be wearing a mask. The DR office and the grocery too.
    No way are Americans going to continue to wear masks unless you make it a law, like they had to do with seatbelts. Remember the ‘click it or ticket’ billboards’?

  23. Soupie says:

    Will be wearing a mask for the foreseeable future. I’ve cone to really appreciate them.

  24. Chaine says:

    I already wore surgical mask on planes before the pandemic as otherwise I always got some random stranger’s cold or flu. I felt like hey, Michael Jackson wore a mask all over the place, why not me? Anyways, will continue to mask up on public transport and any crowded indoor spaces.

  25. Lala11_7 says:

    Variants….I will be wearing a mask around the public PERIOD!

  26. Aang says:

    Public transportation, grocery store, and any other crowded indoor place I will continue to wear a mask. I enjoyed not having even a sniffle this past winter.

  27. Faye G says:

    I’ll keep wearing masks in the winter, it was great not to catch a nasty cold bug this whole last year. Grocery stores, crowded areas, you name it, I’ll be covered up. Fortunately I live in a very blue area so most people are compliant with the regulations.

  28. Case says:

    I used to get so sick with respiratory infections. I’m definitely keeping the mask in the winter months indefinitely.

  29. February-Pisces says:

    I definitely think masks should stay on public transport. The only places I get sick from is when I’m on the bus everyday. I never realised at the time just how many people openly cough and sneeze all over you. I hope it’s normalised so I don’t feel weird in the future.

    I’m glad people have learnt to stay away from others when they are sick, because it used to infuriate me when someone would come near me when they had a cold without telling me first. I always used to tell people if I was sick and then give them the option if they wanted to go near me. I always stay away from people who have small children if I’m sick, they won’t thank you for passing a cold to them or their children.

  30. nb says:

    I’m fully vaccinated but still wearing a KN95 mask into all stores I go to. I have started going to some outdoor live music again (although at much decreased capacity than normal) and there is talk that by mid summer outdoor concerts in my state could be at full capacity again. If that happens I most certainly will still wear a mask in the crowds even if I don’t have to. It’s been nice not being sick with colds or the flu this past year. As someone who would go to 1-4 concerts a month for years I guess I never really thought about how being packed into the same place with thousands of people literally breathing on each other’s necks, using the same restrooms, touching the same things, and spreading all those germs affected my health!

  31. Jessica says:

    I’m a family physician and I can attest- I saw a single flu case (our season runs late Oct-late March), almost no pneumonias, and the number of common colds plummeted. On the pediatric side, zero cases of RSV or bronchiolitis, almost no asthma flares (outside of some wildfires and the pollen season), and one strep throat. Usually I see more than that in a single week!
    I hope we start looking too so many Asian countries that have a culture of public mask wearing if you have a cough, or during flu season, or in crowds. I plan on doing so with my family.