During an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Dr. Fauci said it’s important to keep an “open mind” about masking after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that unvaccinated children ages 2 and older wear masks and that students wear masks in all K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, in light of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 delta variant.
“It’s not comfortable, obviously, for children to wear masks, particularly the younger children,” he said. “But you know, what we’re starting to see, Hugh, and I think it’s going to unfold even more as the weeks go by, that this virus not only is so extraordinarily transmissible, but we’re starting to see pediatric hospitals get more and more younger people and kids not only numerically, but what seems to be more severe disease.
“Now we’re tracking that, the CDC is tracking that really very carefully, so it’s going to be a balance that we would feel very badly if we all of a sudden said OK, kids, don’t wear masks, then you find out retrospectively that this virus in a very, very strange and unusual way is really hitting kids really hard,” he continued. “But hopefully, this will be a temporary thing, temporary enough that it doesn’t have any lasting negative impact on them.”
Hewitt pushed back, citing an editorial Sunday by The Wall Street Journal, titled, “The Case Against Masks for Children,” which argues that long-term masking can cause physical and developmental issues in children and that there’s little evidence to back up a mandate.
“Facial expression are integral to human connection, particularly for younger children who are only learning how to signal fear, confusion and happiness,” Hewitt said. “Covering a child’s face mutes these nonverbal form of communications, can result in robotic and emotionless interaction. So, Dr., what did you base it on? Why?”
Dr. Fauci responded by claiming the data cited in the editorial “dates back to the alpha variant, not necessarily all the most recent data on delta.”
“Delta is different,” he said. “We’d better go back and make sure those data are really solid the same way you’re asking me, and I will. I’ll go back to the CDC and make sure that the data that they’re talking about is really solid. So let’s do both. Let’s just check both those things out and make sure we’re really talking about apples and apples and not apples and oranges, and make sure we’re talking about transmissibility of delta as we’re seeing what it’s doing right now.
“So I’ll just keep an open mind,” he added.