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Fauci: 'Possible' Americans will need to wear masks into 2022

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci predicts high schoolers will receive coronavirus vaccinations this fall Texas patrons threaten to call ICE on Mexican restaurant for keeping mask mandate Gottlieb: 'Probable' that high schoolers will get coronavirus vaccines this year MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, on Sunday said that it was “possible” Americans could still be wearing masks to defend against the coronavirus in 2022, but predicted “a significant degree of normality.”

“You know, I think it is possible that [continuing to wear masks is] the case. And, again, it really depends on what you mean by normality,” Fauci told host Dana BashDana BashKhashoggi fiancée: Not punishing Saudi crown prince would be 'stain on our humanity' Senate Democrat: Saudi relationship being 'recalibrated' Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE in an appearance on CNN's “State of the Union.”

“I mean, obviously, I think we're going to have a significant degree of normality beyond what the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year, that, as we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with the president completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality. It may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019, but it'll be much, much better than what we're doing right now,” he added.

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On whether mask usage will continue in the year ahead, Fauci added, “it depends on the level of dynamics of virus that's in the community. And that's really important, because that gets back to something, again, that you said. If you see the level coming down really, really very low.”

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director added that the risk of transmission will “never be zero,” but could reach a “minimal threat that you will be exposed to someone who is infected.”

A reduction to the baseline of months ago, he added, would be a “heck of a lot better than what it’s been” but it would be far better to “see it go way down.”

“When it goes way down, and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable in saying, we need to pull back on the masks, we don't need to have masks,” he added.