- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci declared this week that people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 still shouldn’t dine indoors at restaurants or go to movie theaters “because of the safety of society,” even as the number of positive cases in the country continues to decline.

“There are certain aspects of being vaccinated and what that means to you personally and your own personal safety and that of your family, versus what vaccines will allow you to do in society,” Dr. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House COVID-19 press briefing

“One relates to you, yourself, being vaccinated, and the other relates to the number of people and the relative percentage of people in society that will be vaccinated,” he continued. “Because there will be things that you will not be able to do because the burden of virus in society will be very high, which it is right now. Even though we’re going way down on the decline that [CDC Director] Dr. [Rochelle] Walensky showed you, we are still at an unacceptably high baseline level with a seven-day average being quite high. 

“So there are things, even if you’re vaccinated, that you’re not going to be able to do in society: for example, indoor dining, theaters, places where people congregate. That’s because of the safety of society,” he added.

Dr. Fauci said masks are still necessary for vaccinated people because there’s a chance they could still carry the virus in their nasopharynx while remaining asymptomatic — a theory he said had not yet been proven.

The comments come as Dr. Fauci and others face backlash for the public messaging surrounding the vaccine, with critics accusing them of downplaying its efficacy and in turn discouraging people from getting it.

“There’s a lot of conversation about how you need to keep doing the same things even after you get vaccinated — you know, like wearing a mask, not seeing your family, things like that,” a reporter asked during Monday’s briefing. “Do you think that’s preventing people from being more enthusiastic about getting vaccines?  And may we see that change in the future?”

The White House COVID-19 response team said a set of recommendations is forthcoming on what vaccinated people can safely do, but that it’s safe to say right now that they no longer have to quarantine after being exposed to the virus.  

“We are working on rolling out a lot of vaccine to a lot of people, and yet we still have a lot of disease — 66,000 cases a day,” Dr. Walensky said. “So what we might be proposing, in terms of guidance, will really likely be at the individual level and not at the community level.”

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