White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that wearing masks will remain “essential” — even after Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19 infections.
Psaki made the comment in response to a question about a recent segment from “The News with Shepard Smith” during which the CNBC anchor rebuked shoppers and workers at a grocery store in Naples, Florida, for failing to wear masks while inside the market.
“Part of what we’re also trying to do is make our health and medical experts available to ensure people understand — and I’ll reiterate it here today — it’s not just a vaccine,” Psaki said. “That is obviously an incredible medical breakthrough, and we want every American to have one, but even after [you’re] vaccinated, social distancing, wearing masks are gonna be essential, and we’ll need to continue communicating that through health and medical experts.”
Psaki’s answer is in line with the recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states “not enough information is currently available to say if or when the CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others.”
“Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision,” the agency added.
Kristin Englund, an infectious disease expert for the Cleveland Clinic, said Americans will have to wear face masks and remain distanced from one another “into the foreseeable future” because “getting vaccinated does not instantly mean we can go back to how life was before.”
“Until we have some level of herd immunity, the vaccine is now just another layer of protection against COVID-19,” she said. “The vaccines are certainly a step in the right direction — and a reason to celebrate — but we’re not out of the woods yet.”
This comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a medical adviser to President Joe Biden, is urging Americans to wear two masks because “it just makes common sense.”
On his first day as president, Biden signed an executive order mandating masks in places under federal jurisdiction, like airports, ships, trains, federal lands, federal courthouses, and buses between cities. He then disobeyed his own mandate.