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'Here We Go Again.' Fauci Clashes With Kentucky Senator Over Masks, Immunity

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AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool
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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul argues those who've either recovered from or been vaccinated against COVID-19 should not have to wear face coverings. The position is at odds with advice from the nation's top infectious disease specialist.

It's not the first time Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci have clashed during a Senate hearing and some familiar themes emerged — with the Bowling Green lawmaker again claiming former COVID patients and those vaccinated have "virtually zero chance" of getting it again and need not wear masks.

"What studies do you have that people who have had the vaccine or the infection are spreading the infection?" Paul pressed Fauci. "If we're not spreading the infection, isn't it just theater?"

Fauci countered that Paul's argument ignores the emergence of new mutations.

"When you talk about reinfection and you don't keep in the concept of variants, that's an entirely different ballgame. That's a good reason to wear a mask," the White House chief medical advisor explained.

Fauci cited a Johnson & Johnson study he said showed patients who had been infected with the original strain of the virus appeared to have no protection when exposed to the South African variant.

Researchers are still gathering evidence on whether vaccinated individuals can still transmit the disease and on the effectiveness of the vaccines against the new variants.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.