At the outset of the pandemic, Fauci — like most public health authorities — advised against wearing face masks, telling the public that doing so was unnecessary unless an individual was showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Fauci in subsequent weeks and months made a sharp 180-degree turn on the subject of masks, advocating their universal usage and arguing that mask-wearing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
When pressed in June on why he had initially argued against masks, Fauci said that the public health community was “concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.”
“And we wanted to make sure,” Fauci continued, that the scarce PPE was reserved for “the people, namely the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in [harm’s way], to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected.”
In a September interview with ABC, Fauci repeated this admission.
“Very early on in the pandemic, in the very early months, before we even had many cases,” he said, “… there was a shortage of PPE and masks for health care providers who needed them desperately since they were putting their lives and their safety on the line every day.
“So the feeling was that people who were wanting to have masks in the community, namely just people out in the street, might be hoarding masks and making the shortage of masks even greater. In that context, we said that we did not recommend masks.”
Fauci claimed that, in addition to allegedly discovering that masks were effective at stopping the spread of viruses, scientists earlier this year also reportedly discovered that “cloth coverings worked as well as surgical masks.”
“So the idea of a shortage of masks that would take it away from those who really need it was no longer there because anybody could get a mask,” he said.
Fauci’s office did not respond to emails over the weekend seeking comment.