Why Weren't We Wearing Masks From the Beginning? Dr. Fauci Explains

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Do you wear a mask when you go outside?

In the North, such as New York, it's required. However, down in the South, it seems to be a choice.

Back when the coronavirus pandemic cases started picking up in early Spring, many Americans and experts asked: Should we be wearing masks? 

In response, some public health officials, such as the U.S. Surgeon, said that masks weren't necessary for the general public.

And then the public was told that, actually, masks are good to wear to help prevent the spread and also allow you to go out without anxiety of anyone coming within six feet of you.

Dr. Fauci joined TheStreet to talk about why masks are important when you leave the house and to better explain why there was back and forth in the beginning.

"Masks are not 100% protective. However, they certainly are better than not wearing a mask. Both to prevent you, if you happen to be a person who may feel well, but has an asymptomatic infection that you don't even know about, to prevent you from infecting someone else," said Fauci. "But also, it can protect you a certain degree, not a hundred percent, in protecting you from getting infected from someone who, either is breathing, or coughing, or sneezing, or singing or whatever it is in which the droplets or the aerosols go out. So masks work."

Watch: Jim Cramer: Investors Should Treat Stocks Like Fauci Treats Vaccines

So, why weren't we told to wear masks in the beginning?

"Well, the reason for that is that we were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply. And we wanted to make sure that the people namely, the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in a harm way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected."

In case you missed it, this clip has been featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

You can follow Katherine Ross on Twitter at @byKatherineRoss.

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Watch TheStreet's Interview with Dr. Fauci