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Face mask mandates should be lifted last, says former FDA chief

Dr. Scott Gottlieb said face mask mandates should be lifted last during the pandemic

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A sign requiring make is seen near diners eating at a restaurant on the River Walk, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in San Antonio. Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas is lifting a mask mandate and lifting business capacity limits next week.

A sign requiring masks is seen near diners eating at a restaurant on the River Walk, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in San Antonio. Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas is lifting a mask mandate and lifting business capacity limits next week. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, recently said face mask mandates shouldn’t be lifted anytime soon.

Eric Gay, Associated Press

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, recently told CNBC that face mask mandates shouldn’t be lifted anytime soon. In fact, the mask mandates should be lifted last, he said.

  • “Leaving the masks in place, having that be the last thing we lift, I think that’s prudent,” he said.

Gottlieb said he didn’t like Texas and Mississippi governors’ decisions to lift their states’ mask mandates, which I wrote about for the Deseret News.

But, Gottlieb said, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has made the right decision. Lamont said businesses in the state can open to 100% capacity starting in mid-March yet the mask mandate will remain in place, per NBC Connecticut.

  • “I think it’s the kind of thing we need to be doing around the country, is at least providing a map of where we’re heading if the situation continues to improve without taking our foot off the brake all at once,” said Gottlieb.

Worries of a surge

Experts are worried about a potential COVID-19 surge, as I wrote about for the Deseret News.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently told NPR that the next two to three weeks matter a lot for the battle against COVID-19.

  • “I think the next two or three months could go in one of two directions,” Walensky told NPR. “If things open up, if we’re not really cautious, we could end up with a post-spring break surge the way we saw a post-Christmas surge. We could see much more disease. We could see much more death.”
  • “In an alternative vision,” Walensky said, “I see we really hunker down for a couple of more months, we get so many people vaccinated and we get to a really great place by summer.”