Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said many Americans are "misinterpreting" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidance advising that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks in most cases.
In an interview with Axios, Fauci told the news organization's co-founder Mike Allen the new federal guidance was "an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors."
"I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It's not," Fauci said.
Fauci added that many Americans are not reading the guidance with a critical eye.
"People either read them quickly, or listen and hear half of it. They are feeling that we're saying: 'You don't need the mask anymore.' That's not what the CDC said," Fauci said. "They said: If you are vaccinated, you can feel safe — that you will not get infected either outdoors or indoors. It did not explicitly say that unvaccinated people should abandon their masks."
With coronavirus cases dropping across the country, an increasing number of states have begun lifting pandemic restrictions.
However, widely varying vaccination rates across states have prompted some businesses like Trader Joe's and Instacart to offer their employees payment incentives to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Some states have also gotten creative with incentives to get residents vaccinated.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a novel incentive program for people in his state to get vaccinated: a $1 million lottery. Other state incentives include West Virginia offering $100 saving bonds to people between the ages of 16 and 35, New Jersey offering free beers and New York offering free MetroCards for anyone who gets a shot at a subway vaccination site.
About 37 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated and 47 percent has received at least one dose, according to the CDC.