Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the top infection disease experts in the United States, said over the weekend that the United States might not fully return to normal until 2022, which means masks may be necessary until then.

  • Fauci told CNN it’s “possible” Americans will need to wear masks in 2022 to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus.
  • However, he said the United States will reach “a significant degree of normality” by the end of 2021.

What happened

CNN’s Dana Bash asked Fauci if he thought Americans would need to wear masks in 2022.

  • Fauci said: “You know, I think it is possible that that’s the case and, again, it really depends on what you mean by normality.”
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Fauci told CNN he can’t predict when the U.S. will return to its pre-pandemic vibe. But, he said, by the end of 2021 “we’re going to have a significant degree of normality beyond the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year.”

  • “As we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with (President Joe Biden) completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality,” Fauci said.
  • Biden previously said the United States will likely be back to normal by “next Christmas,” as I wrote for the Deseret News.


Back in November 2020, Fauci said during a virtual discussion with the University of Melbourne that the United States would likely see a return to normal by the end of 2021, per The Los Angeles Times.

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  • “I think it will be easily by the end of 2021 — and perhaps even into the next year — before we start having some semblance of normality,” he said.

Fauci also said at the time that the future — or the “new normal” — could include restaurants never having full capacity again and people wearing masks in indoor public spaces, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

The counterargument

Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, recently wrote for The Wall Street Journal that the United States would reach herd immunity by April.

  • He wrote that a combination of natural immunity, the COVID-19 vaccine and asymptomatic cases could lead to a return to normal much sooner than we think.
  • “There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect COVID will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.”