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Given that the quote from Fauci is no longer current, we rate this claim as “Outdated.”