CDC director: Masks may protect people better than future COVID-19 vaccine

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, told a Senate committee Wednesday it would likely be summer or fall of 2021 before most American could be vaccinated for COVID-19 and pushed for the continued use of masks calling them a “powerful public health tool.”

Redfield made the comments while testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

“These facemasks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have,” Redfield said. “I might even go so far as to say that this facemask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”

Redfield said he hopes all Americans will embrace masks saying, “we have clear scientific evidence that they work.”

“We haven’t got the acceptance, the personal responsibility that we need for all Americans to embrace this face mask,” Redfield said while hold up his mask.

When it comes to a vaccine, Redfield noted it would take many months to get a COVID shot to be distributed once approved. His comments seemed to echo statements made last week by the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“By the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccine and get a majority or more of the population vaccinated and protected, that’s likely not going to happen until the end of 2021,” Fauci said in an interview with MSNBC. “If you’re talking about getting back to a degree of normality prior to COVID, it’s going to be well into 2021, towards the end of 2021.”

The hearing in front of a Senate committee comes a day after the CDC released a report on coronavirus deaths in children and young adults in the U.S.

The CDC found that there were 121 deaths among people younger than age 21 from Feb. 21 through the end of July. According to a report, there’s a disproportionate percentage of deaths among Black and Hispanic youth.

The CDC found 54 were Hispanic, 35 were Black, and 17 were white, even though overall there are far more white Americans than Black and Hispanic.

Three out of four deaths occurred among Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native persons, the agency announced on Twitter.

“It’s really pretty striking. It’s similar to what we see in adults,” and may reflect many things, including that many essential workers who have to go to work are Black and Hispanic parents, said Dr. Andrew Pavia, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the University of Utah. He was not involved in the CDC study.

The Associated Press, Reuters and NewsNation contributed to this report.

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