Jerome Adams, the surgeon general in the Trump administration, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s relaxing masking guidelines amid a surge in coronavirus infections because of the delta variant “premature.”
“Last year Tony Fauci and I famously, prematurely, & wrongly advised against masks. I felt it was the best call at the time, but now regret it. I’m worried the CDC also made a similarly premature, misinterpreted, yet still harmful call on masking in the face of delta variant,” Adams said in a series of postings on Twitter Saturday.
He said the mask guidelines should pertain to areas where coronavirus cases are increasing and vaccine rates are declining.
Adams made the comments a day after current CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as the delta variant spreads across the country.
“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage, because unvaccinated people are at risk.”
In Los Angeles County, a mandate took effect on Saturday that requires both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks indoors.
Adams blamed the confusion on the changing science around the novel coronavirus, which was first reported in December 2019 in China.
”What Dr. Fauci and I said was based on the science & conditions at the time, and amounted to ’save the medical masks (which were all that was available) for the medical workers.’ Both the conditions & the science changed, but what people heard and held to was masks don’t work,” he said in another posting.
“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 said. “Both the conditions (rising cases) & the science (delta variant) changed, but what people heard and held to was masks were no longer needed.”
He predicted that states will soon enact mask mandates like Los Angeles County that “conflict with mask guidance @CDCgov issued a month ago.”
“The sooner CDC says we were wrong & hits the reset button, the better. Trust me - I know more than anyone,” he said.
Adams said based on the emerging data, the CDC should be advising people to “vax it AND mask it” in areas with increasing coronavirus cases and positivity rates.
“CDC was well intended, but the message was misinterpreted, premature, & wrong. Let’s fix it,” he said.
New infections spiked 70 percent from the previous seven-day average to about 26,300 cases, Walensky said during a briefing on Friday.
At the same time, hospital admissions jumped 36 percent to about 2,790 a day, while deaths from coronavirus rose 26 percent to 211 per day.
According to the CDC, more than 160 million Americans are vaccinated, representing about 48 percent of the population.