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Former FDA chief says now is the time to begin lifting mask mandates: 'As aggressively as we put them in'

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Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said this week that indoor mask mandates should begin to be lifted immediately, saying vaccine efficacy means the government should relax pandemic-related restrictions.

In fact, Gottlieb said Thursday that if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not begin encouraging the lifting of mask mandates, they will quickly lose credibility.

"I think we should start lifting these restrictions as aggressively as we put them in," Gottlieb told CNBC host Shepard Smith.

"We need to preserve the credibility of public health officials to perhaps reimplement some of these provisions as we get into next winter, if we do start seeing outbreaks again," he continued. "And the only way to earn public credibility is to demonstrate you're willing to relax these provisions when the situation improves. That's what gives you the credibility to implement them when things worsen."

Overall, Gottlieb predicted the COVID-19 situation in the U.S. will only continue to improve, yet another reason to relax or rescind mask mandates.

"Even if vaccination rates are slowing, we're still going to continue to chip away at getting more people vaccinated," he said, "but I think that these gains are locked in, and the summer looks very good."

What is the CDC saying?

The CDC, under President Joe Biden's leadership, does not agree with Gottlieb.

Despite finally updating mask guidance allowing fully vaccinated individuals to go outside without wearing a face mask under most circumstances, the CDC still says all people, regardless of their vaccine status, should wear a mask indoors.

Surprisingly, as vaccination rates slow because the people most enthusiastic about vaccines have already received their shots, the CDC and other public health officials who were aggressive with restrictions are not using mask mandate rescission as an incentive for more people to get vaccinated.

However, polling data suggest such incentives would work.

In one recent study, researchers discovered an overall increase of 13% in vaccine eagerness if it meant mask mandates become a thing of the past.

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