White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci said Monday that he hopes mask requirements for children will not be necessary for much longer so that the face coverings will not have a "lasting negative impact" on them.
After the Center for Disease Control and Prevention updating its guidance last month to recommend that schools require masks for all children 2 years of age or older, regardless of vaccination status, Fauci encouraged mask mandate opponents to "keep an open mind."
"It's not comfortable, obviously, for children to wear masks, particularly the younger children," Fauci told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. "But you know, what we’re starting to see, Hugh, and I think it's going to unfold even more as the weeks go by, that this virus not only is so extraordinarily transmissible, but we're starting to see pediatric hospitals get more and more younger people and kids not only numerically, but what seems to be more severe disease.
"Now we're tracking that, the CDC is tracking that really very carefully, so it’s going to be a balance that we would feel very badly if we all of a sudden said OK, kids, don't wear masks, then you find out retrospectively that this virus in a very, very strange and unusual way is really hitting kids really hard," he continued. "But hopefully, this will be a temporary thing, temporary enough that it doesn't have any lasting negative impact on them."
When Hewitt asked him about the affects that long-term masking has on children's physical and phycological development, citing data included in an editorial piece in The Wall Street Journal, Fauci questioned whether the article used data applicable to the new highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus.
"Delta is different," he said. "We’d better go back and make sure those data are really solid the same way you’re asking me, and I will. I’ll go back to the CDC and make sure that the data that they’re talking about is really solid. So let’s do both. Let’s just check both those things out and make sure we’re really talking about apples and apples and not apples and oranges, and make sure we’re talking about transmissibility of delta as we’re seeing what it’s doing right now."