Former Surgeon General Says CDC Was ‘Premature’ in Relaxing Mask Guidance

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
July 19, 2021 Updated: July 19, 2021

Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams has said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to relax COVID-19 mask guidance may have been “premature” as new highly infectious variants continue to spread across the United States.

Adams, who held the position under the Trump administration, said on Twitter that he is concerned that the CDC may have been rash when in May it announced it was relaxing mask recommendations for fully vaccinated Americans. His remarks come amid a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

“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. I’m worried the CDC also made a similarly premature, misinterpreted, yet still harmful call on masking in the face of delta variant,” Adams wrote on Twitter.

He said that the CDC’s updated guidance to lift mask requirements in the majority of indoor and outdoor settings for fully vaccinated people was based on the “science” and “conditions” at the time.

Epoch Times Photo
Riders on a subway train wearing protective masks due to COVID-19 concerns in New York on Aug. 17, 2020. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

However, citing emerging data and the surge in cases of the Delta variant, he urged the CDC to reconsider advising people to both wear masks and get vaccinated in areas with high COVID-19 numbers, until cases start to drop.

“The sooner CDC says we were wrong, & hits the reset button, the better,” Adams wrote. “CDC was well intended, but the message was misinterpreted, premature & wrong. Let’s fix it.”

The Delta variant of the CCP virus is believed to be more transmissible than other strains of the virus and is becoming the leading COVID-19 strain in many countries. Researchers say however that it’s too early to say whether the variant of the CCP virus is more or less deadly than others.

The CDC said on July 6 that the Delta variant is now likely the dominant strain in the United States, currently accounting for more than half of all recorded COVID-19 cases.

A CDC spokesperson said that the variant’s prevalence in the United States has grown from 30.4 percent of all cases for the period ending June 19 to 51.7 percent during the period from June 20 to July 3.

“Variant proportions are dynamic and difficult to predict due to reporting delays, the presence of multiple variants, and changing incidence,” Jade Fulce, a public affairs specialist with the CDC, told The Epoch Times in an email.

“CDC continues to evaluate approaches that can reliably predict these dynamics while making improvements to genomic surveillance to increase the number, representativeness, and timeliness of specimens,” Fulce said.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines, which have been granted emergency use authorization by the FDA, are believed to be effective against the Delta variant, studies suggest. Circumstantial evidence indicates that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is effective as well, according to White House COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci.

CDC data shows that approximately 161.2 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, making up about 48 percent of the population.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy, has said that he backs the various U.S. counties that are reimposing mask restrictions to tackle surges of COVID-19 cases.

“It’s very reasonable for counties to take more mitigation measures like the mask rules you see coming out in L.A., and I anticipate that will happen in other parts of the country too,” Murthy told ABC News’s “This Week.”

He added that his comments were “not contradictory” to CDC guidance, which is designed to allow local authorities the freedom to determine their own prevention measures that best fit the local situation.

face masks
For sale masks are seen displayed on a clothesline in the front yard of a house in Los Angeles on July 20, 2020. (Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

Los Angeles on July 16 reinstated a countywide mask mandate, requiring all residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated against the CCP virus.

The LA county’s public health department said that the mandate has been reinstated to counter a rising transmission rate from the Delta variant, and an “intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown.”

The move was met with intense opposition, with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) announcing that its deputies won’t enforce the order.

“Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear face masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement. “The underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance.”

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.