Former surgeon general ‘regrets’ not recommending masks during initial days of pandemic, encourages CDC to do better now


WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 21: Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks to the media outside the White House on December 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Adams talked about why President Trump hasn’t received the vaccine yet, citing an experimental antibody treatment he was given while recovering from COVID-19 in October. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The surgeon general under former President Donald Trump says he “regrets” advising against masks at the initial stages of the pandemic and is calling for the CDC to change its latest guidance now.

In a tweet issued Saturday, Dr. Jerome Adams stated, “Last year Tony Fauci and I famously, prematurely, & wrongly advised against masks. I felt it was the best call at the time, but now regret it.”

He added he was now concerned the CDC was making a similar mistake on not encouraging face masks in light of the delta variant.

Mask wearing has remained a polarizing issue across the U.S. as states struggled to get some residents to wear masks during the height of the pandemic. Some anti-maskers would use the initial advisory by the CDC, and specifically Dr. Fauci, against face masks to justify not wearing one.

“What Dr. Fauci and I said was based on the science & conditions at the time, and amounted to ‘save the medical masks (which were all that was available) for the medical workers.’ Both the conditions & the science changed, but what people heard and held to was masks don’t work…” tweeted Adams.

The CDC’s current guidance is that masks aren’t required for those who are vaccinated unless they are in specific circumstances. It was issued after cases dropped significantly across the U.S. and vaccination rates reached a high enough point.

At the time, some expressed concerns it was too premature to drop mask recommendations before the U.S. reached herd immunity.

The CDC reported that cases are up 69.3% compared to the 7- day average last week. Places, where vaccination rates are lower, have reported a higher number of cases.

The surge in cases is attributed to a highly transmissible delta variant which is impacting the unvaccinated more significantly.

Adams recommended that “instead of vax it OR mask it, the emerging data suggest CDC should be advising to vax it and mask it in areas with (growing) cases and positivity — until we see numbers going back down again. CDC was well-intended, but the message was misinterpreted, premature, & wrong. Let’s fix it.”

Some areas such as Los Angeles County restarted their mask mandate. Las Vegas did not go as far but encouraged mask-wearing indoors or outside, regardless of vaccination status.

Conservatives responded harshly to Adams’ tweets encouraging mask-wearing with Texas Senator Ted Cruz responding, ” No. No. No. Hell NO.”

The former surgeon general replied in a thread, “If the question is should we fail to advise people to take extra precautions if and when the data clearly shows hospitals and health workers are threatened, my answer is: No. No. No. Hell NO.”

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