Health Experts Say Some Parts Of U.S. Can Ease Up On Indoor Masking

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb says "we're at the point" where places could ease indoor mask guidance.

Health Experts Say Some Parts Of U.S. Can Ease Up On Indoor Masking
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

U.S. health experts say some parts of the country — with high vaccination rates and low community spread — can start to ease up on masking.  

"I think we're at the point in time when we can start lifting these ordinances in a wholesale fashion, and people have to take precautions based on their individual risk," former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS "Face the Nation" Sunday. 

In a separate interview, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, agreed. 

George Stephanopoulos asked Fauci on ABC's "This Week": "Is he right?" 

"I think so and I think you're going to probably be seeing that as we go along and as more people get vaccinated the CDC will be and almost in real time, George, updating their recommendations and their guidelines," Fauci replied. 

But those real-time updates and public guidance from the CDC is confusing at best. 

The CDC eased face mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people late last month. Those who have had their shots don't need to wear face masks if they're exercising, dining, or in small groups outside. Plus, fully vaccinated people can get together inside without putting on a mask.  

Federal masking guidelines are tied directly to the number of Americans who are vaccinated. More than a third of all U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated. The Biden administration's goal is to have 70% get at least one dose by July 4.   

But at the same time, some might not feel comfortable yet. Gottlieb said that's a cultural thing. But mental health experts point to fearful language many Americans still have on their mind from the early public health messages during the pandemic. 

"They have done a good job making us aware and also instilling some modicum of fear. So that doesn't dissipate overnight," Dr. Eric French, medial director of adult psychiatry at the Medical Center of Aurora in Colorado, told Newsy.