As coronavirus cases reached a new high on Friday in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci now believes a mask mandate is necessary to stop the spread of the virus.
But Dr. Fauci acknowledges enforcing a mask mandate is a challenge. Adding to the challenge, officials in recent days say that family gatherings are becoming a significant reason why cases are growing throughout the US.
“I think that would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly,” Fauci said in an interview on CNN on Friday. “And one of the issues though, I get the argument say, 'Well, if you mandate a mask, then you're going to have to enforce it and that'll create more of a problem.' Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that near universal mask wearing outside of the household would save anywhere from 60,000 to 160,000 lives in the US between now and February 1.
While many public institutions, such as grocery stores, restaurants, and other facilities have implemented mask and social distancing policies to help slow the virus, public health officials say smaller, more interment gatherings, are where many are letting their guard down.
With colder weather setting in and major holidays upcoming, public health officials are becoming increasingly concerned as cases increase throughout much of the US.
“Smaller more intimate gatherings of family, friends and neighbors may be driving infection as well especially as these gatherings move indoors and adherence to face coverings and social distancing may not be optimal,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the CDC. “I recognize that we are all getting tired of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives. We get tired of wearing masks but it continues to be as important as it’s ever been and I would say it’s more important than ever as we move into the fall season.”
Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar agrees with Dr. Butler’s assessment.
“We’ve got to keep focused on washing our hands, watching our distance and wearing our face coverings when we can't watch our distance and in particular being careful in household gatherings. This has become a major vector of disease spread,” Azar told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.