Adams served as surgeon general under former President Donald Trump, taking a prominent role throughout the early phase of the pandemic. He recently took to Twitter to voice his own regrets and concerns over mask mandates since then.
“Last year Tony Fauci and I famously, prematurely, & wrongly advised against masks,” Adams wrote in a rare admission of a misstep. “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 [rising] delta variant.”
He urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to instead advise people to get vaccinated and wear masks in areas with higher cases of COVID-19 until numbers start to decline.
The CDC updated its guidance in May to say that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, nor do they need to socially distance either. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky praised the guidance at the time as a major step toward normalcy.
However, the delta variant has increasingly taken focus in recent weeks as it became the leading strain of COVID-19 in a number of countries. Walensky said in late June that nearly one in two samples sent for genomic sequencing now come back positive for the delta variant.
The CDC said on July 6 that the delta variant is likely the dominant strain in the U.S.
Fauci reiterated the CDC guidance on July 1, insisting that the agency’s “broad recommendation” was based on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.
“As I was alluding to in my comments, you have a broad recommendation for the country as a whole, which is CDC recommendation that if you are vaccinated, you have a high degree of protection, so you need not wear a mask whether indoor or outdoor,” Fauci said, during the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing.
Despite the threat of the delta variant, vaccinations lag in some regions, particularly in the Midwest.
The White House announced it would send “surge response” teams to areas seeing a spike in delta cases, with the first arriving in Springfield, Missouri. The two-person team reportedly committed to staying in the area through Aug. 6.
Fox News’ Alexandra Hein contributed to this report.