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Former surgeon general says CDC ‘premature’ to ease mask rules as delta variant spreads


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Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who served under Donald Trump, worries that easing mask guidelines was “premature” in the face of rising infections caused by the delta variant.

Adams expressed regret that he and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, did not more strongly advocate mask wearing at the beginning of the pandemic last year. Now he worries that the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention is repeating the same mistake after rolling back its guidelines for indoor mask wearing.

“What @CDCgov said was based on the science & conditions at the time, and amounted to ‘you’re safe IF you vax it OR mask it,’” Adams tweeted Saturday. “Both the conditions (rising cases) & the science (delta variant) changed, but what people heard and held to was masks were no longer needed…”

The CDC said in May, after about a third of Americans were fully vaccinated, that those who have gotten their necessary shots “no longer need to wear masks or physically distance.”

Adams made multiple comments early last year, on his personal social media and on television appearances, advising against mask wearing. He even tweeted out a plea last year for people to stop buying masks out of concerns medical professionals would be unable to obtain proper personal protective equipment.

Adams said Saturday that he regrets his former messaging, and that the CDC’s decision to ease masking rules was similarly “misinterpreted, premature, & wrong.”

“Now you have health officials, cities & counties (eg LA County), & likely soon states issuing guidance in direct conflict w/ the mask guidance @CDCgov issued a month ago. The sooner CDC says we were wrong, & hits the reset button, the better,” Adams said. “Trust me- I know more than anyone.”

Public health officials in Los Angeles County reinstated a mandate for indoor mask wearing last week, calling it an “all-hands-on-deck moment” amid a surge of infections following the rise of the delta variant.

The mandate has already caused some confusion, as Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told residents his office would not enforce the mandate as it contradicts the CDC guidelines and is “not backed by science.”

Though breakthrough infections can occur for those who are vaccinated, the vaccinations are proven effective against serious cases of Covid-19 and hospitalizations as a result of the virus.

The CDC said earlier this month that the delta variant, which is highly transmissible, is now the dominant coronavirus strain across the country. There is increased concern for young, unvaccinated, people who are being hospitalized at alarming rates.

President Joe Biden ramped up vaccine messaging to the youth of America, inviting “Driver’s License” singer Olivia Rodrigo to the White House Wednesday to discuss the importance of getting inoculated.

Fauci described the delta variant as the greatest threat to eliminating the coronavirus in June, after it was declared a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization in May.

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