At the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., federal officials told the public they did not need to wear face masks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said they only made people feel better but were pretty much pointless.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams even told Americans in a late February tweet that they need to “STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”
As time went on, the tone changed, and Americans were encouraged to wear face masks, with many places requiring them.
Now Fauci has admitted that the reason Americans were initially discouraged from using them is because there was a shortage, as Adams acknowledged in the second part of his February tweet.
“We were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply,” Fauci told The Street. "We wanted to make sure the people, namely, the healthcare workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in harm's way to take care of people who you know were infected with coronavirus, and the danger of them getting infected. We did not want them to be without the equipment they needed."
The NIAID director again reiterated that masks are not 100 percent effective, but “they certainly are better than not wearing a mask.”