Are the US' days of requiring masks to be worn indoors coming to a close? Maybe, but there are a few caveats. The first one? Enough people need to be vaccinated. It was the former head of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb, who first said (on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday) that it's time to start thinking about lifting indoor restrictions, including mask mandates. Asked on ABC's This Week the same day whether Gottlieb is right, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he thinks so. "And I think you’re going to probably be seeing that as we go along and as more people get vaccinated," Fauci continued, noting that the CDC will update its recommendations accordingly. But, he said, with the US still averaging about 43,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, "We’ve got to get it much, much lower than that."
The next caveat: This doesn't necessarily mean mask mandates are gone forever. As Gottlieb explained, there may be another coronavirus surge this winter, and lifting restrictions when the numbers indicate it's reasonably safe to do so is a good way for public health officials "to demonstrate that we can do that and that we maintain our integrity and our ability to reimplement these things when we have to." And for anyone looking for predictions, Fauci also said (though, again with the caveat that this requires enough people to be vaccinated) that by next Mother's Day, "I believe that we will be about as close to back to normal as we can." (Read more coronavirus stories.)