“I want to protect myself and protect others, and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing you should be doing,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “Newsroom.”
Fauci said he believes that while wearing a mask is not “100% effective,” it is a valuable safeguard and shows “respect for another person.”
The wearing of masks while out in public has emerged as a politically charged issue as Trump has called for a return to pre-pandemic life in the hopes of revitalizing the US economy. He has repeatedly declined opportunities to wear a mask in public, telling reporters at a Ford plant in Michigan last week that he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” though he did wear a mask while touring parts of the plant.
Fauci’s remarks to CNN are the latest instance in which he, as arguably the most visible public health professional in the country, has struck a more cautious tone on reopening than the President.
“I think we need to reserve judgment right now because we’re still a few months from there. Hopefully we will see that diminution. If we don’t, then as I’ve said before, I would have significant reservations about that,” Fauci said.
Fauci, however, expressed optimism about a vaccine that could be ready by November or December if “all the things fall in the right place.”
“The scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy for it,” Fauci told CNN Wednesday of the drug Trump has touted, adding that there’s likelihood of “adverse events with regard to cardiovascular.”
Fauci has previously said his relationship with Trump is not contentious, and Trump has insisted as much previously. In person, officials have told CNN this is mostly accurate. They haven’t engaged in huge shouting matches or sniping. But Trump’s irritation at being publicly undermined has been evident in conversations with his friends and aides, when he’s complained that Fauci doesn’t seem to be on his side.
This story has been updated with additional comment and background information.
CNN’s Eric Bradner and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.