Former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb told "America's Newsroom" host Dana Perino that he believes the country is approaching a tipping point at which "masks become optional."
What are the details?
During a Wednesday appearance on the Fox News show, Gottlieb said that he believes mask mandates will begin to phase out.
"I think we're going to move to a paradigm where masks become optional, encouraged in certain settings, and it's going to be based on what the overall prevalence of infection is, and what the vaccination rate is, and whether or not you're in an environment where there are vulnerable people."
Perino responded, "Yeah, it seems like it's time to move on to that."
Earlier in his remarks to Perino, Gottlieb explained that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have been better serving the public if their remarks on mask guidance were consistent.
"It hasn't been articulated in a way that we can make very practical use of it. When we should and shouldn't be wearing masks, what the risk factors are that should trigger mask mandates in some cases."
He added, "We should be consistent, first of all."
"In a high prevalence environment, particularly when you have vulnerable people, the use of masks can help protect individuals," he continued. "And so if you're one of those individuals trying to use a mask to reduce your risk, I think it would be prudent. But you also need to remember that quality of mask matters, and a cloth mask isn't going to afford an individual nearly as much protection as a level three procedure mask, and you're going to get much more protection from an N-95 mask or a KN-95 mask. So if you're someone who wants to protect yourself because you feel you're at risk of COVID or you're worried about getting an asymptomatic infection and maybe bringing it into the home to a young child, you should be looking at the quality of the mask as well."
Gottlieb said in July that the CDC's ongoing messaging about mask-wearing has been inconsistent and confusing and that the department's guidance recommending that vaccinated persons mask up will have what he said is a "negligible" effect on mitigating the spread of coronavirus.
"I don't think things have shifted, I think they've gotten more confusing for the average consumer because of the shifting advice from CDC," Gottlieb said at the time. "The vaccine doesn't make you impervious to infection. There are some people who are developing mild and asymptomatic infections even after vaccination."
He added, "Whether or not that should then translate into general guidance for the entire population that if you're vaccinated you should wear a mask, I don't think that that's the case. I don't think we're going to get enough bang for our buck by telling vaccinated people they have to wear masks at all times to make it worth our while."