Fact Check

Did Anthony Fauci Say People No Longer Need to Wear Masks?

An old interview with Dr. Fauci made new rounds on social media during the coronavirus disease pandemic in 2020.

Published June 12, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases listens to President Donald Trump speak about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. Dubbed "Operation Warp Speed," the Trump administration is announcing plans for an all-out effort to produce and distribute a coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Image Via Getty Images
The United States' top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said people in the U.S. do not need to wear masks to protect against COVID-19.

Another rumor about the efficacy of wearing masks during the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic made the rounds in June 2020, a topic we have debunked numerous times at Snopes. A "60 Minutes" interview from early March 2020 with Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the leading members of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, was being regurgitated on social media. In the segment,  Fauci said there was no reason people in the U.S. needed to wear a mask.

The problem? That clip is old, and Fauci was simply echoing what many others argued at that time, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the World Health Organization (WHO), and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since then, Fauci's views and that of most organizations have changed, as more information became available about the disease.

In the March 2020 clip, Fauci said: "Right now in the United States people should not be walking around with masks ... You should think of healthcare providers who are needing them and the people who are ill."

Since at least April 2020, the CDC recommended that everyone wear cloth masks in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. That recommendation changed because of studies that found even people without coronavirus symptoms, but who may still have the disease, could transmit the virus through close interactions with others, especially through speaking, coughing, and sneezing:

In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) ...

Snopes has also covered the efficacy of masks in past fact checks, including the evolving recommendations of the U.S. surgeon general and the effectiveness of cloth masks in preventing the spread of the virus.

Fauci also clarified in a June interview that masks are helpful "... but it's masks plus physical separation." This is in line with the CDC guideline that, "The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing."

Given that the quote from Fauci is no longer current, we rate this claim as "Outdated."


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   "How to Protect Yourself & Others."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   "Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially     in Areas of Significant Community-Based Transmission."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   "Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19."

Ibrahim, Nur.   "Did the US Surgeon General Recommend the Public Not Wear Masks?"    Snopes.   13 May 2020. 

Mikkelson, David.   "Are Non-Respirator Masks Ineffective at Protecting Against COVID-19?"    Snopes.   19 May 2020.

Winsor, Morgan.   "Dr. Fauci voices concerns about coronavirus spreading amid nationwide protests."    ABC News.   10 June 2020. 

60 Minutes.   "March 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci talks with Dr Jon LaPook about Covid-19."    8 March 2020. 

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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