Dr. Fauci: More vaccinations, herd immunity needed before we can take the masks off

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NEW YORK — As more and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine, many wonder when more restrictions will be lifted and when it will be possible to remove our masks.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, said it will be possible to get rid of mask wearing once the infection rate in communities reaches a low point.

“We’ll be able to do that when you get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, and the level of infection in the community is extremely low,” Dr. Fauci told PIX11 News’ Dan Mannarino. 

He has continuously encouraged mask wearing even if people have been fully vaccinated. 

If you get to that point, we will reach “herd immunity,” which means there will be little infection in the community and we will be able to pull back on many of the public health mitigations including mask wearing.

Fauci also reminded New Yorkers even if they are vaccinated, people can theoretically be carriers and transmit the virus to someone else. 

As the country continues to race toward herd immunity, Dr. Fauci also warned of “disturbingly high” COVID cases, saying that the country is facing “really a critical time” as health officials race to vaccinate Americans.

Fauci said there is a risk of another surge, but vaccinating millions of people per day paired with not pulling back too quickly on public health mitigations could prevent or significantly reduce another wave of cases and deaths.

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