The face of the U.S. government's COVID-19 response under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden retired from government earlier this year. However, he is back in recent interviews, discussing the latest strain of the novel coronavirus.

In an interview with CNN, Fauci revived one of his most controversial claims, one that Lafayette residents have reacted strongly to - the efficacy of masks in preventing infection.

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During the interview, Fauci claimed that while masking didn't slow down the pandemic, there was evidence that on an "individual basis," many citizens protected themselves.

“When you’re talking about the effect on the pandemic as a whole, the data is less strong,” Fauci, who retired from his senior health post last year, said. “But when you talk about an individual basis of someone protecting themselves … there’s no doubt that there’s many studies that show that there is an advantage [to masks].”

But as pointed out by WGNO, there are plenty who call claims like this misleading.

The study, from respected British database Cochrane, claimed that masking “probably makes little or no difference.” It went viral in anti-mask and COVID-skeptic communities this spring, but has been called out as misleading by fact-checkers.

Cochrane also put out a statement saying the piece was “widely misinterpreted” in March.

Fauci was called out by one of his fiercest critics in Washington, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

But there are growing calls for the U.S. to return to masking, including here in Louisiana. Dillard University announced in August that they would return to masking. Loyola University, like Dillard, alerted students and faculty to the rise in cases, but the university did not order a mask mandate on its campus.

That news came on the heels of new data showing Louisiana's caseload was higher than the national average, causing concerns for some.

Driving the news: Hospitalization rates are rising the fastest in Mississippi (+73% month over month), Alabama (+66%) and Louisiana.

  • The average COVID hospitalization rate nationwide rose about 17% for the same time period, per the latest available CDC data.
  • A new variant, EG.5 or Eris, is now the dominant form in the U.S., according to CDC estimates — though it's unclear if it's directly responsible for the rising numbers.

Lafayette residents, asked in an informal poll how they would respond to a new mask mandate, voiced some strong opinions.

"Hell no," was the consensus as of this writing.

One response blamed "corporate media" for the panic.

"Everybody is guided by the corporate media which is almost completely run by our Democrat establishment now," the response read. "So just keep that in mind when you give any of this any consideration at all."

Another respondent was willing to accept that masks might help, but still wouldn't wear one themselves.

Although I think masks offer some help, I will rather not wear one. I think it should always be an option. However, I think the 6ft apart rule should be made law, only because I dislike flithy humans and I would like for them to stay away from me LMFAO. Anyways, just follow good freakin hygiene, cover your cough/sneeze, wash your hands and your arse, keep your digits out your mouth, eyes and nose... lastly... stay tf home if you are sick!

Others were more adamant, with one saying "I will never again put on another mask. They do nothing!"

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Fauci's comments touched off a firestorm on social media, with politicians, like the one mentioned above, attacking Fauci. However, there is no indication that Lafayette, or Louisiana as a whole, will be returning to a mask mandate.

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