Former CDC head talks easing COVID restrictions

Dr. Richard Besser, the president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control, gives his opinion on states rolling back mandates.
3:31 | 03/05/21

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Transcript for Former CDC head talks easing COVID restrictions
Joining us now is Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the CDC and former colleague here at ABC and, doc, great to see you as always. If we just heard, many states are starting to ease restrictions rolling back mask mandates. Does this concern you? Is it too early. Yeah, Michael, I am greatly concerned. We're all tired of the pandemic. We're tired of the restrictions. But we see light at the end of the tunnel. If we can hang in there I little longer we'll get there in a way much safer. Some of the states lifting the mandates are having as many cases right now as they were having last summer when they put these things in place and if it were simply about personal choice I'm willing to take that risk it's one thing. When you go out without a risk you are putting at risk everyone you come into contact with and millions have to go to work each day. We need to keep everybody safe. I agree with that. Doc, the CDC set to release their new guidelines as those vaccinated can gather safely. What do you expect them to say. A lot are expecting them to say if you got vaccinated go for it. You can live your life the way you did before the pandemic. That's not coming. I expect they'll say if you're around other people who are fully vaccinated can you have small gatherings without masks. I'm hoping they go a little further and say if you're a grandparent and fully vaccinated you can hug your grandchildren. That would be a wonderful thing. But it's going to be slow. It's going to be slow so that they can track and see what happens as people tart to come together who are hopefully vaccinated. We're up to 2 million vaccinated a day. New cases of hospitalizations are down significantly. While there's still a lot of work to be done is it safe to say we've turned the corner. Dr. Walensky, the head of the CDC was saying she's concerned and concerned because of the variants springing up that could lead us to another wave. We don't want to get there which is another reason to keep wearing the masks. One of the things that gives me hope, in addition to the number of people getting vaccinated each day, we're seeing greater outreach into the communities that have been hit the hardest, black, Latino, native American communities, some that may have challenging getting to megasite, we're seeing the government bringing vaccine to corner pharmacy, we're seeing vaccine drives in churches and community centers. Those efforts have to continue in a really big way so everyone can be protected. The mayor of Detroit just turned down a shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine stating modern and pfizer are the best. So what is your take on that? Well, before I answer that, I need to let viewers know our foundation owns some stock in j&j. From my perspective as a public health person what we are most concerned about is hospitalizations and deaths and all three vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths. You know, these vaccines were not compared against each other in trials and the modern and pfizer were done before we had variants that were circulating so my recommendation is whatever vaccine is offered to you, you should get. If it's a setting where there's choice, well, that's terrific. But in many of these big settings it's going to be a one and done kind of situation which is terrific. All right, doc. Thank you always for your Dr. Richard Besser, appreciate

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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