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

KISU swim club member Justin Fotherby is one of six swimmers from across Canada to be recognized for the 2020-2021 Victor Davis Award. (Submitted photo)
Penticton swimmer wins major awards, closing in on Olympic dream

Justin Fotherby, a KISU club member, has just won the prestigious Victor Davis Award

Vaseux Lake. Grant Harder photo.
Letter: Why can’t we have motorized boats on Vaseux Lake?

Avid fisherman with a disability would love to use his pontoon

This elevated boardwalk will be replaced at the Osoyoos Desert Centre. (courtesy of the Osoyoos Desert Centre)
Funding to replace Osoyoos Desert Centre’s elevated boardwalk is ‘dream come true’

The 1.5 km boardwalk and trail is enjoyed by over 10,000 visitors annually

Wills Hodgkinson, 10, and his mom Neeley Brimer get ready to battle round three of cancer. The community of Penticton has his back. (Submitted)
Community raises $21K to help Penticton boy battle third round of cancer

Okanoggin Barbers held the fundraiser on Saturday for 10-year-old Wills Hodgkinson

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

Unknown Persona (Jacob Chrystal) performs at the Kelowna Community Theatre’s Black Box theatre on Feb. 28, 2021. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
The show must go on: Kelowna musicians take virtual stage to keep playing

Rebellious Unicorns offers local artists the chance to perform live, a rarity amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent must come first and last for B.C. industrial projects

UN declaration seen as end to a history of horror stories

FILE  - In this Friday, Jan 1, 2021 file photo, a lorry driver's documents are scanned on a phone as he passes a checkpoint for the train through the Eurotunnel link with Europe in Folkestone, England. One month after Britain made a New Year split from the European Union's economic embrace, businesses that once traded freely are getting used to frustrating checks, delays and red tape. Meat exporters say shipments have rotted in trucks awaiting European health checks. Scottish fishermen have protested at Parliament over the catch they can no longer sell to the continent because of byzantine new paperwork. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
FINLAYSON: Government should focus on strengthening B.C.’s leading export industries

To revive the economy, this piece in the strategy is integral, writes Jock Finlayson

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

Most Read