DR. Scott Gottlieb said Monday he expected more Americans to stop wearing face covers in the coming weeks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
“Nobody will wear masks until June. I think the spread is until June [of Covid] will be sufficiently low in this country[and[Wejustwon’tworryaboutit”saidtheformerCommissionerofFoodandDrugAdministrationtoCNBCs[and[we’rejustnotgoingtobeconcernedaboutit”theformerFoodandDrugAdministrationcommissionersaidonCNBC’s[und[WirwerdenunsdarübereinfachkeineSorgenmachen”sagtederehemaligeKommissarderFoodandDrugAdministrationzuCNBCs[and[we’rejustnotgoingtobeconcernedaboutit”theformerFoodandDrugAdministrationcommissionersaidonCNBC’s“Squawk Box.”
Gottlieb’s comments came during a back and forth over how that updated mask guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affects young children who are not yet eligible to receive the Covid vaccine. Children from 12 to 15 years became eligible for the Pfizer– –BioNTech Vaccine last week.
While fully vaccinated, Gottlieb said he wore a mask while shopping with his young children this weekend. He said he no longer feels at risk of getting Covid but has no problem wearing a mask when he’s with them for now.
“What’s the downside to keeping it going?” Said Gottlieb. “I would probably keep a mask with my children longer. Another week or two,” added Gottlieb, who now serves on Pfizer’s board of directors.
On Thursday, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear face covering or maintain a social distance of six feet from other people in most indoor and outdoor areas. Masks are still needed on airplanes and public transportunder a federal rule.
States and municipalities are still able to set their own guidelines for face coverings. New Jersey, for example, intends Maintain the requirements for the inner mask. In contrast, states like North Carolina and Ohio have relaxed their mask rules for fully vaccinated people under CDC guidelines.
Big retailers like Walmart, Costco, aim and Starbucks have also lowered face covering requirements for fully vaccinated customers, except in places where local regulations still require it.
“People who go maskless now would go maskless anyway if those mandates are lifted and still choose not to be vaccinated,” said Gottlieb, who headed the FDA in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019.
Gottlieb repeated his belief that the updated guidelines from the CDC will encourage at least some vaccine reluctant Americans to take Covid shots. “I don’t think it will be 10%, but I think we could take in another 2% to 5% of the people,” he predicted.
As of Sunday, 47% of the US population had received at least one dose of Covid vaccine while 37% were fully vaccinated. according to CDC data.
New coronavirus infections in the US continue to decline, which is why Gottlieb believes the CDC mask tour is appropriate.
The 7-day average of new daily coronavirus cases is 33,200, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. That’s 19% less than a week ago, which has continued a sharp decline since mid-April. At this point in time, the daily average of the new cases was more than 71,000.
“I think the prevalence is really falling across the country, and we will get to a point where there are very few infections and the individual risk for a person is low when you do it with an otherwise immunocompetent person have to do, “said Gottlieb.
At the same time, Gottlieb said that people who wear a mask, even when it is not required, should not be ridiculed. For example, someone who is vaccinated but already has an illness may still wear a mask in certain higher-risk indoor spaces, he said.
“I think it should be encouraged. I think it should be supported. People have to make individual decisions about their risk,” said Gottlieb.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing startup Tempus, the healthcare technology company Aetion, and the biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings‘ and royal caribbean“Healthy Sail Panel”.