President Joe Biden contradicted new Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on masking during a Thursday press conference.
“In a lot of places, people don’t have to wear masks. Places where people have gotten vaccinated, where we have a high vaccination rate, people do not have to wear masks at all,” Biden said, in response to a reporter’s question about when he thinks people would have to wear masks.
Biden added that “people are probably going to have to wear masks in those communities where the rate of unvaccinated stays high, and they don’t move to getting vaccinated.”
The new CDC guidelines, introduced on Tuesday, do not mention community vaccination rates as a factor for individuals considering mask usage.
“In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the Delta variant and protect others,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
Public health officials have expressed concern that vaccinated individuals could still become infected with the COVID-19 Delta variant. A study cited by the CDC to justify the mask requirement for vaccinated people, however, was rejected by the scientific peer review process. The study was conducted in India, and included vaccines that are not used in the US.
Nevertheless, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a new mask mandate for all House of Representatives members and staff, regardless of vaccination status. More than 85% of members and staffers were vaccinated against COVID-19 on June 11, when the House repealed its mask mandate. (RELATED: Congress’s Doctor Attempts To Defend Mask Mandate Without Covering Up His Face)
The Senate has not announced a new mandate.
Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Thursday that all individuals over the age of two would be required to wear masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.