Health and Science

Dr. Scott Gottlieb: My kids won't wear Covid masks in school when mandate lifts later this month

Key Points
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday his children "won't be wearing a mask" when their local school district's Covid face-covering mandate lifts later this month.
  • "If it becomes optional, I think most kids won't," the current board member of Covid vaccine maker Pfizer and a former FDA chief said.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it wants to give people a break from mask-wearing, and it's reviewing its guidance on the matter.
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We need to rethink Covid-19 restrictions as case numbers drop, says Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday his children "won't be wearing a mask" when their local school district's Covid face-covering mandate lifts later this month.

"If it becomes optional, I think most kids won't. Some will, and we need to respect that. Some parents are going to continue to wear masks," said Gottlieb, a board member of Covid vaccine maker Pfizer and a former head of the Food and Drug Administration.

Connecticut, where Gottlieb lives, will be lifting its mask statewide mandate on Feb. 28, allowing schools to decide for themselves whether to continue to require masks. He said, "My local school district lifted its mask ordinance" in line with state guidance.

Gottlieb's comments on "Squawk Box" came as both states and local communities are starting to allow people to go maskless as the omicron variant wave dies down and daily Covid cases continue to decline.

The latest U.S. seven-day average of 118,323 new infections per day dropped 44% from a week ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Recognizing that improving case count situation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it wants to give people a break from mask-wearing. The CDC is reviewing the agency's guidance, focusing on Covid hospitalizations, which are also on the decline, as a key metric for deciding on safety protocols.

On CNBC earlier this month, Gottlieb called for the CDC to change its mask guidance, contending it was time for schools to consider dumping mandates when considering the high levels of immunity in the general U.S. population. He warned that prolonging the wait could result in a missed opportunity at normalcy before students go on summer break.

When it comes to entering public places, however, Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday he'll be keeping his mask on to ease others' worries about contracting the virus.

"I'll probably continue to wear it a little bit longer than perhaps I need to based on the overall risk, just because I think it's a matter of etiquette," he said. "I think when I go into a store or pharmacy and other people are there who feel uncomfortable, who feel vulnerable, if they see a lot of people around them wearing masks it makes them more comfortable."

"I'll do that in my community," Gottlieb added. "I think it's a community standard and a community norm now. But I think a lot of people are going to take the option not to wear."

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health-care tech company Aetion and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings' and Royal Caribbean's "Healthy Sail Panel."