Bonchie and Nick Arama both reported earlier on the insane amount of vaccination and mask incoherency we got out of key Biden administration officials today, including from the President himself, on the very same day the CDC issued updated guidelines on mask-wearing for those who have been fully vaccinated.
As per the norm, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was not going to be left out of the messaging woes, delivering a statement of her own on mask-wearing indoors that came with a rather obvious problem she seemed oblivious to.
During the press briefing, Psaki was asked if Biden would be changing his “own personal habits” regarding wearing a mask outside. After she noted he would be doing so per new CDC guidelines as would she, the same reporter asked Psaki if Biden would be changing his indoor habits.
After she stated that the guidelines were different for indoor gatherings, Psaki told the reporter that the White House would still be adhering to “workplace” recommendations from the CDC until they heard differently, saying that she included “in here” (the press briefing room) as part of the area that would still observe CDC “workplace” recs.
.@PressSec: “It will take some time to adjust and adapt for all of us. And I know when I take my kids to the playground this weekend, I’ll be happy not to be wearing a mask.” pic.twitter.com/WWejfTu3U8
— The Hill (@thehill) April 27, 2021
There are a couple of problems with her argument, in my humble opinion. The first one being pretty obvious by just looking at the photo below:
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) April 27, 2021
She’s not wearing a mask, but the reporters questioning her are. In fact, to my knowledge, she has never worn a mask when she’s spoken from the podium either during a briefing or when she’s introduced someone who will be speaking to those assembled in the room.
If reporters have to wear masks during press briefings, why doesn’t she?
The second issue I see is that, per the CDC’s guidelines, people who have been fully vaccinated can gather indoors without having to wear a mask and without social distancing. It says it right there on the website:
If you’ve been fully vaccinated:
– You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
– You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
I would have to think that it would have been a priority for every member of the Biden administration and the administrative staff to have been fully vaccinated at this point out of an abundance of caution. Assuming that’s the case, it doesn’t sound to me like there’s any reason why Biden and Harris continue to be double-masked during briefings at the White House beyond wanting to “send a message,” according to what Psaki said yesterday. But, I mean if Jen Psaki doesn’t have to wear a mask at the White House during briefings, why do they?
And on messaging, what is the exact message they are trying to send? As Bonchie wrote, it depends on what member of the administration you ask, which is a big part of the mask messaging problem. Different people in the administration are saying different things, only to, in some instances, have to walk it back later.
For all the talk from this White House about how they want to make sure Americans are “confident” in what they hear from the government on coronavirus guidelines, which Psaki said today in a clear dig at the Trump administration, the Biden White House’s own messaging has been an absolute hot mess which, as many of us have previously said, has only led to more confusion and caused further distrust of public health officials.
I’m not sure if I should cheer today’s CDC guidelines on outdoor mask-wearing or throw my hands up in frustration. Because the things that make sense to me and, I suspect, to most Americans on how fully vaccinated Americans should conduct themselves appear to be at odds with the White House’s actions — some of which, as I pointed out earlier, don’t always seem to match up with recommendations from public health officials.
It doesn’t take a scientist — a rocket scientist or otherwise — to be able to notice that and be confused by it.