July 20, 2021 -- Jerome Adams, the surgeon general during most of the Trump administration, said the federal government made mistakes in its masking guidance last year and may have made another one recently.

Adams expressed his opinion on Twitter recently, saying: “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 was referring to two pieces of guidance on face masks.

During the early days of the pandemic, when Adams was surgeon general, the federal government recommended the general public shouldn’t wear face masks to make sure front-line medical workers had enough masks -- a policy not reversed until April 2020, when case counts and deaths were climbing sharply.

“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…,” Adams tweeted.

Adams resigned when Joe Biden became president. After the national vaccination program kicked in and cases and deaths dropped in response, the CDC changed its guidance, saying in May 2021 that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear face masks anymore, regardless of the location or size of the gathering.

But because of Delta variant hotspots, some jurisdictions are issuing mask guidance that conflict with CDC guidance, he said.

“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. Trust me - I know more than anyone.”

LA County recently recommended that everybody wear face masks in indoor public places, including fully vaccinated people. The Delta variant now accounts for more than 70% of all new COVID cases in LA County, the county Health Department said.

Adams said the CDC should keep pushing vaccinations and mitigation measures such as masking.

“Instead of vax it OR mask it, the emerging data suggests CDC should be advising to vax it AND mask it in areas with cases and positivity - until we see numbers going back down again,” he tweeted. “CDC was well intended, but the message was misinterpreted, premature, & wrong. Let’s fix it.”

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

Twitter: @JeromeAdamsMD, July 17, 2021

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