Scott Gottlieb said Monday that he expects more Americans to stop wearing the veil against the coronavirus in the coming weeks.
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Gottlieb’s comments came during a back-and-forth about updated mask recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affecting young children not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine. Vaccine Pfizer-BioNTech Last week
While he was fully vaccinated, Gottlieb said he was wearing a mask this weekend while shopping with his kids.He said he was no longer at risk of getting COVID. But there was no problem wearing a mask while staying with them.
“What’s the downside of keeping it up?” Gottlieb said. “I would have kept the masks for my kids a week or two longer,” added Scott Lieb, who now serves on Pfizer’s board.
As of Thursday, the CDC said in most indoor and outdoor settings, those who received the vaccine were no longer required to wear a veil or maintain a six-foot social distance from others. Masks are still required on planes and on public transport according to federal rules.
States and localities can still establish their own policies on face masking. For example, New Jersey intends to maintain an indoor mask requirement. In contrast, states such as North Carolina and Ohio relax mask rules for people who are fully vaccinated, according to CDC recommendations.
Major retailers such as Walmart, Costco, Target and Starbucks have reduced facial masking requirements for fully vaccinated customers, except in places where local rules are still required.
The CDC has defended the new guidance, though it has caused confusion and concern. Critics are worried it will make the unvaccinated people able to go without masks.
“People going maskless now will have to post maskless anyway when these documents are lifted and still choose not to be vaccinated,” said Gottlieb, who leads the FDA in the Trump administration. In the year 2017 to 2019
Gottlieb reiterated his belief that the CDC’s updated recommendations would encourage at least reluctant Americans to vaccinate to get at least shots of the coronavirus. “I don’t think it’s 10%, but I think we might pick another 2% to 5%,” he predicted.
As of Sunday, 47% of the US population had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, while 37% were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
New coronavirus infections in the United States continue to decline, which is why Gottlieb believes the CDC mask recommendations are appropriate.
The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases was approximately 33,200, according to the CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, a 19 percent drop from the previous week, which has continued to decline since. The middle of April saw an average daily number of new cases of more than 71,000.
“I think the prevalence is going down dramatically across the country and we’re going to get to the point where there are very few infections and the individual risk to the person is low if you have to come in contact with an immunosuppressed person,” Gottlieb said.
At the same time, Gottlieb said, those who choose to wear masks, even when they are not necessary, should not be ridiculed. For example, people who have been vaccinated. But with pre-existing symptoms, masks may still be worn in higher-risk locations, he said.
“I think it should be encouraged, I think it should be encouraged, people have to make individual decisions about their risks,” Gottlieb said.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and member of the board of Pfizer, Tempus genetic testing startup Tempus, Aetion healthcare technology company and biotechnology company. IlluminaHe also served as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings‘and Royal Caribbean“Healthy Sail Panel”