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Fauci Defends Outdoor Mask Mandates for Summer Camps: ‘I Wouldn’t Call Them Excessive’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the COVID vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md., December 22, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/Reuters)

Dr. Anthony Fauci pushed back on the notion that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus guidance for summer camps is “excessive” in comments on NBC’s The Today Show on Wednesday morning.

The guidance recommends that masks should be worn at all times, including by vaccinated adults and children as young as 2, whether indoors or outdoors. Campers should be distanced at least three feet from each other at all times, and at meals staff should be separated by at least six feet from campers, according to the guidance.

“Given what research shows about transmission outside, about the low risk of serious illness in children, are these CDC guidelines excessive?” Today Show host Savannah Guthrie asked.

“I wouldn’t call them excessive, Savannah, but they certainly are conservative,” Dr. Fauci answered. “And I think what you’re going to start to see is really in real time, continually reevaluating that for its practicality. Because you’re right, people look at that and they say, ‘Well, is that being a little bit too far right now?'”

Guthrie added, “Yeah, because aren’t we supposed to be—and people have been preaching for a year, ‘follow the science.’ The science doesn’t suggest those CDC guidelines are too sensible for little kids outside in 90-degree heat running around with masks.”

Dr. Fauci repeated the CDC could change the guidelines with time.

“You’re right, it looks a bit strict, a bit stringent, but that’s the reason why they keep looking at that and trying to reevaluate, literally in real-time, whether or not that’s the practical way to go,” Fauci said.

An infectious disease expert at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is headed by Dr. Fauci, said the CDC summer camp guidelines amounted to “virtue signaling” in comments to New York Magazine. The expert spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to communicate with the media.

“Charitably, masking kids at camp outdoors is simply virtue signaling,” the scientist said. “Requiring kids to continuously wear masks at camps, even while outside playing in the heat, when it provides little additional protection is unfair and cruel to our children.”

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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