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Fauci on mask usage: Vaccinated people can still 'inadvertently infect' others

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciBiden to appear on MSNBC before town hall on vaccines The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns Sunday shows - White House COVID-19 response coordinator says US is 'turning the corner' MORE warned Sunday that vaccinated Americans could still be infected with COVID-19 and pass the virus on to others "inadvertently," thereby necessitating mask usage until more Americans receive the vaccine or the level of confirmed infections significantly drops.

Speaking with NBC's Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddGOP divided over expected Cheney ouster Sunday shows - White House COVID-19 response coordinator says US is 'turning the corner' Hogan: GOP devolving into 'circular firing squad' with Cheney ouster MORE on "Meet the Press," Fauci explained that receiving the vaccine "dramatically" diminishes a person's risk of carrying an infection, but does not eliminate it, adding that vaccinated Americans could experience asymptomatic infections.

"[W]hat happens is that you might get infected and get absolutely no symptoms, not know you're infected, and then inadvertently go into a situation with vulnerable people. And if you don't have a mask, you might inadvertently infect them," he said, adding that there was a "small risk" of such a situation occurring.

"[W]hen you get vaccinated you are clearly diminishing dramatically your risk of getting infected. That's one of the things we've got to make sure everybody understands. You dramatically diminish it," Fauci added.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines currently recommend that vaccinated Americans continue wearing masks in public, though the agency says that vaccinated people congregating exclusively with others who have received the vaccine can do so safely without a mask. Attending "medium or large gatherings" with or without a mask is also still not recommended.

"We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more," the CDC said in the guidelines.