Dr. Fauci: It's 'possible' Americans may still be wearing face masks in 2022

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that it is "possible" Americans may still need to wear face masks in 2022, even as the country could approach a certain "degree of normality." 

While Fauci noted he can't predict when the U.S. could return to the way it operated during pre-pandemic life, he believes that, by the end of the year, the United States could have "a significant degree of normality beyond what the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year." 

"As we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with [President Biden] completely, that we will be approaching a degree of normality," Fauci said. "It may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019 but it’ll be much much better than we’re doing right now." 

However, Fauci stressed that it is just an estimate and that "a lot of things can happen to modify that."

"That’s the reason why we’ve got to be careful," Fauci added. "Because you have variance that you need to deal with. There are so many other things that would make a projection that I give you today on this Sunday, wind up not being the case six months from now."

RELATED: Fauci gives estimate on when US may get back to ‘some semblance of normality’

Fauci explained that the community prevalence of the coronavirus will be the determining factor as to when Americans will not need to wear masks, noting that he would like to see the level of transmission drop to a baseline so low that there is a "minimal threat that you will be exposed to someone who is infected." 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wearing a face mask bearing the name of the Major League Baseball Washington Nationals, testifies at a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerc

"If you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe you are going to be able to say you know for the most part we don’t necessarily have to wear masks," Fauci said. "When it goes way down, and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable in saying you know we need to pull back on the masks, we don’t need to have masks." 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over 63 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the United States as of Sunday. According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 has infected more than 28 million Americans since March 2020, and has resulted in more than 498,000 related deaths.

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