Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) picked a fight with Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday, accusing the infectious diseases expert and others who wear masks after being vaccinated against the coronavirus of doing so for “theater.”
During a Senate hearing, Paul, an eye doctor, questioned recommendations from health specialists that people who have the vaccine should continue to wear face coverings in public.
“You’ve been vaccinated and you parade around in two masks for show,” Paul told Fauci. “You can’t get it again there’s almost zero percent chance you’re going to get it.”
“And you’re telling people that have had the vaccine who have immunity — you’re defying everything we know about immunity by telling people to wear masks who have been vaccinated,” he continued.
“You want to get rid of vaccine hesitancy? Tell people to quit wearing their masks after they get the vaccine,” Paul added.
In response, Fauci quipped, “Here we go again with the theater.”
“Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater, masks are protective,” Fauci said.
Paul snapped back: “If you have immunity they’re theater. If you already have immunity you’re wearing a mask to give comfort to others.”
“I totally disagree with you,” Fauci responded.
Fauci, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, went on to explain that masks were still necessary to protect against variants of the virus spreading around the country.
He agreed it was unlikely someone would get infected with the original COVID strain for at least six months after receiving the shot, “But we in our country now have variants.”
“We’re not dealing with a static situation of the same virus,” Fauci said.
The heated exchange came a little over a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new recommendations saying that people who are fully vaccinated can gather indoors with others who have the jab without masks or social distancing.
They can also get together with one household of people who aren’t inoculated, as long as those people are not high-risk for the coronavirus, the guidance said.
But the CDC still recommends those who are inoculated wear face coverings in public settings.
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