CNN host Dana Bash pressed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Sunday for the “mixed message” people and businesses are receiving with regards to mask mandates.
The Thursday move by the CDC that updated its guidance to allow vaccinated people to dispense with masks has “set off confusion for the 1.21 million fully vaccinated Americans,” Bash claimed.
“You and Dr. Fauci and President Biden told them that they didn’t need to wear masks anymore. Almost 20 states plus companies like Walmart and Starbucks, they are lifting or relaxing their mask mandates. So did you mean for this guidance to result in stores and local governments lifting those mask mandates?” Bash asked Walensky.
Walensky said the updated guidance was meant as a recommendation at the individual level rather than a requirement for businesses.
“This was a first step. It was foundational guidance,” Walensky said. “We needed to sort of set this foundation based on the science to make sure people understood as they make their recommendations moving forward. And we are doing the hard work with them to make those recommendations.”
“Yeah, and I understand what you mean about a first step, but can you see since this is big news for every American, can you see how your guidance that vaccinated people can take their masks off but requirements from businesses, local governments to keep the masks on are sending a mixed message?” Bash further inquired.
Walesnky said that businesses needed “to work hard to make sure that they have available vaccines” for their unvaccinated employees and make sure they “wear a mask to keep themselves safe.”
“We know at the individual level the vaccinated people are safe. More than one-third of Americans have been vaccinated. Over 45% of adults above the age of 18,” the CDC director added.
“What you are describing relies on the honor system for unvaccinated individuals to wear masks,” Bash said.
The “State of the Union” host then proceeded to play an excerpt from an earlier interview with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union leader, who said that workers had been “verbally abused” for asking if customers were vaccinated or not.
“What is the remedy for this in your view? Should businesses try to tell who is vaccinated and who is not? Otherwise, it’s a free for all,” Bash asked, apparently referring to vaccine passports. (RELATED: A Majority Of Americans Support ‘Vaccine Passports’ For Some Activities, Poll Finds)
“We are not saying that everybody has to take off their masks if they are vaccinated.” Walensky said in response.
“What we are saying to those essential workers is that if those workers are vaccinated, they are safe. So we are really asking the businesses to work with their workers to make sure that they have the paid time off to get themselves vaccinated so they can be safe,” she concluded.