Unvaccinated children must wear masks when playing together, Fauci warns

White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci is continuing to warn people about the dangers of Covid-19, this time recommending kids remain masked around one another.

“When the children go out into the community, you want them to continue to wear masks when they’re interacting with groups or multiple households,” Fauci told CBS on Sunday, warning that “children can clearly wind up getting infected” even if the various households have been vaccinated against the virus.

Fauci also hit a bittersweet note when asked if kids will be able to enjoy activities impeded by shutdowns combatting the virus, like summer camps and playgrounds. Fauci would only say it’s “conceivable that will be possible.”

If the US keeps up its current vaccination pace (three to three and a half million a day, according to Fauci), then there will be more “flexibility” for large group activities like summer camps.

“We don’t know that for sure,” Fauci, who has said school-aged kids likely won’t be vaccinated until 2022, warned, “but I think that’s an aspirational goal that we should go for.” 

As more and more Americans have been vaccinated against the virus and various states have moved away from lockdown measures, the question of mask mandates and usefulness has once again become a heated one. Fauci has continued to urge people to keep protecting themselves from the virus. The health official even got into a heated exchange recently with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) after the senator questioned the logic of masks for people who are immune or have gotten a vaccine, calling the act “theater.” Fauci argued variants are now what people should be worried about.

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“Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective,” Fauci said, later saying virus variant strands are a “good reason for a mask.”

On Sunday, Fauci also criticized states rolling back pandemic-era restrictions as “premature” and the reason behind a recent uptick in cases. 

“What we’re likely seeing is because of things like spring break and pulling back on the mitigation methods that you’ve seen,” he said. “I believe it’s premature.”

Over 15% of the US population has been vaccinated thus far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and some health guidelines have been slightly rolled back. For instance, the CDC’s guidelines now state that vaccinated people can gather with other vaccinated folks indoors.

The Covid-19 vaccines on the market in the US, however, have not yet been authorized for children (though Pfizer’s is for patients 16 years or older). 

Trials are currently underway for a vaccine that is safe for children, with Johnson & Johnson recently pointing to September as a likely date when one could be available from them. 

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