On Tuesday night, Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose mask-messaging has been one of the chief criticisms leveled at him over the last year, reportedly alternatively put his mask on and took it off depending on whom he was speaking to at a party.

According to Politico, the mask routine occurred at a book party for ABC News’ Jonathan Karl at Café Milano. “As gawkers tried to snap pictures of him indoors not wearing a mask, America’s doc would put it on and take it off depending on whom he was around,” Politico reported.  

 Fellow attendee socialite and novelist Sally Quinn, who used Fauci as a model for the male protagonist (Dr. Michael Lanzer) in her 1991 novel, “Happy Endings,”  told Politico, “I said, ‘You seem pretty ambivalent about your mask’ because no one else was wearing one. He said, ‘I just decided that if anyone came up that I didn’t know, I would put my mask on.’”

Guests at the book party had to show proof of being vaccinated to gain entry, and Quinn protested, “He was being safe. He knew everyone was vaccinated. If it was someone we knew, he would trust them, and if it was somebody else, he didn’t.” Reminiscing in 2020 about the first time she met Fauci, Quinn gushed, “I just fell in love with him.”

She added, “Usually those dinners, you make polite conversation, and that’s it. But we had this intense conversation, personal conversation. I though[t], ‘Wow, this guy is amazing. … He just exuded charisma.”

In July, Fauci held an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, who said, “We know Mississippi … has the lowest vaccinated…rate in the country. You are in Biloxi, Mississippi right now, Dr. Fauci. Would you be wearing a mask? You’re fully vaccinated, but would you be wearing a mask in Biloxi?”

“I think that would be a good reason to do that,” Fauci said. “I mean because they’re — as we’ve said so often that vaccines are not — even as good as they are and highly effective, nothing is 100%. And if you put yourself in an environment in which you have a high level of viral dynamics and a very low level of vaccine, you might want to go the extra step and say, ‘When I’m in that area where there’s a considerable degree of viral circulation, I might want to go the extra mile to be cautious enough to make sure that I get the extra added level of protection, even though the vaccines themselves are highly effective.”

In late July, Fauci stated in an interview with NPR’s Ari Shapiro, “… even though breakthrough infections among vaccinated people are rare — they still comprise a very small fraction of the infections that occur — is that when people who are vaccinated do get a breakthrough infection, we know now as a fact that they are capable of transmitting the infection to someone else. And given that that’s the case, now when we’re talking about vaccinated people being indoors in settings where you don’t know what the status is, particularly in an area, as you mentioned correctly, that has a high degree of protection, the recommendation is that you wear a mask even indoors, even if you’re vaccinated.”

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