During the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio Tuesday, Joe Biden falsely claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci did not change his stance on the effectiveness of mask wearing.
“Masks make a big difference,” said Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden. “His [Trump’s] own CDC said if we just wore masks between now- if everybody wore masks and social distanced between now and January, we’d probably save up to a hundred thousand lives. It matters.”
“And they’ve also said the opposite,” interjected Trump. “No serious person said the opposite,” Biden fired back.
“Dr. Fauci!” exclaimed Trump, “Dr. Fauci said the opposite.”
“He did not say the opposite,” insisted Biden.
Trump is right. Fauci did flip-flop his stance on the effectiveness of mask wearing. In a “60 Minutes” interview from March, Fauci said with confidence, “Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks.”
When the interviewer asked if Fauci was sure about this, Fauci reiterated, “There’s no reason people should be walking around with a mask. Wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better, and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not proven to be the perfect protection that people think that it is.”
Fauci even suggested that wearing a mask was more dangerous than not wearing one. “Often there are unintended consequences people keep fiddling with the mask and keep touching their face.”
Fauci has since shifted his messaging. In a livestream interview last month, Fauci said, “What we need is to get the message across that we are all in this together. And it’s important because one of the purposes of the masks is that if you may be inadvertently walking around not knowing you’re infected, to protect others from getting infected,” he said. “We have to keep hammering home with that message.”
The debate over Fauci’s mask messaging started when moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump his opinion on masks. “You have begun to increasingly question the effectiveness of masks as a disease preventer, and in fact, recently, you have cited the issue of waiters touching their mask and then touching plates,” said Wallace. “Are you questioning the effectiveness of it?”
“No … I have a mask right here,” said Trump, pulling out his mask. Trump said he puts his mask on “when I think I need it.”
The president explained the reason he isn’t wearing a mask during the debate is because “everybody’s had a test and you’ve had social distancing, and all of the things that you have…”
Taking a jab at Biden, Trump added, “I don’t wear masks like him … Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 20 feet away… He shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
“I’m okay with masks,” stated the president, “I’m not fighting masks.”