In May, Joe Biden welcomed those who were fully vaccinated to take off their masks. Last week we saw new CDC guidelines that masks should be worn regardless of vaccination status. This change came once it was revealed that the viral load of the vaccinated was “indistinguishable” from the unvaccinated.¹ The “pandemic of the vaccinated” shifted as the vaccinated were confirmed spreaders of the virus as well. In a report from Massachusetts, 74 percent of the cases in an outbreak were vaccinated.² This isn’t the only location; “outbreak cases” around the U.S. and the world have been reported in hospitals, schools, and communities.
With this new development, the CDC, White House, and other state and local governments did an about face and reinstated masks as either requirements or strong recommendations regardless of vaccination status. Just as soon as the mandates went back into effect, the hypocrisy began again.
Capitol Police and Physicians to Enforce Mask Mandates
On Tuesday, the Speaker of the House immediately put a mask mandate in place for all staff and representatives, regardless of vaccine status. Arrests are allowed by the U.S. Capitol Police of any staff member entering the building without a mask. The mandate is to be enforced in all offices and House buildings. Representatives are exempt from arrests due to legal protection, but are to be reported to the House Sergeant-at-Arms Office.
The Attending Physician of the United States Capitol, Dr. Brian Monahan, held a meeting on Wednesday with representatives regarding the new mask mandates and the memo he had released the day before.
“In his memo explaining the new indoor mask policy for everyone – regardless of vaccination status – Monahan states: ‘To be clear, for meetings in an enclosed US House of Representatives controlled space, masks are REQUIRED.’
“There are some exceptions to the rule, such as when an individual is alone and if a member of Congress is recognized to speak during a committee hearing or on the House floor, Monahan’s memo states. In those ‘limited’ circumstances, Monahan wrote, ‘removal of the mask to facilitate recognition is an option, followed by immediate replacement of the mask following the address.'”³
It was reported that Monahan took off his mask during the meeting with GOP Representatives while explaining the new protocol.³
Crossing the Line
The new mask mandate only affects half of the Capitol. The Senate side remains without any mandates in place. On Thursday, GOP staffers and Representatives marched to the Senate chamber in protest of the mask mandate put into place by Nancy Pelosi. Rep Lauren Boebert (R-CO) spoke out, not just for the chambers of Congress, but for all Americans:
“If we cave on our freedoms in the halls of Congress, what hope do the people have across America?”⁴
Borders in Congress aren’t the only places with conflicting COVID messages. When U.S. citizens go on vacation to Mexico, they are required to provide proof of a negative COVID test to reenter the country and wear masks while traveling on public transportation.⁵ With the immigration crisis at the southern border, not only are few wearing masks as they cross the border, but there is also no testing, much less negative results. This challenges two states in particular, Texas and Florida. The White House is criticizing these states for more relaxed masking policies, leaving the decision to people and localities. The governors are fed up with no help from the White House in stemming the illegal migration at the nation’s borders nor protecting its citizens.
New concerns have been raised as to the movement of those coming into the country illegally being moved to other more populated cities. States like Texas are concerned about what it means for their citizens as new orders are put into place.⁶ The U.S. Attorney General has sued the state for protecting the citizens of its state as well as those of the U.S.⁷
This week, Biden also verbally sparred with Governor DeSantis (R-FL) as he demanded governors get out of the way. DeSantis recently signed an executive order allowing parents to be the ones to decide whether their children will wear masks or not during school. The order came following the evidence last year that schools in Florida showed no difference in COVID cases whether they required mask wearing or not. Under the Parents’ Bill of Rights, parents can choose what is best for their families. During a press conference on Wednesday, DeSantis defended Florida’s freedoms as a state against President Biden, telling him, “Why don’t you do your job? Why don’t you get this border secure? And until you do that, I don’t wanna hear a blip about COVID from you, thank you.”⁸
Beyond the Halls of Congress and Within Our Borders
As the new recommendations came, they seemed to be inconvenient to the mandates some elected chose to put into place.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated her birthday at a celebration on Friday. Photos showed Bowser posing in pictures mask-less with David Chappelle. Conveniently the Mayor’s mask orders went into effect Saturday morning at 5 am. Later that night she was photographed at an indoor wedding reception mask-less.⁸
In Chicago, Lollapalooza was scheduled for this weekend after being canceled last year. The event started on Thursday. Mayor Lightfoot held off the new restrictions until Sunday, when the event was wrapping up. It was reported that Lightfoot wore the mask while amidst the general public, many of whom were unmasked. While backstage with performers and onstage introducing performers, she was spotted mask-less.⁹
Even Nancy Pelosi was spotted violating her own mandates while posing for a picture with a new Representative.¹⁰ The image was reminiscent of the January 20 photo Joe Biden took with his family shortly after signing an executive order requiring 100 days of masks on government properties.
House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was protesting the expiration of the eviction moratorium this week when she was also caught with her mask down. This video, posted by Breitbart, was shot on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. It shows AOC not wearing a mask, putting it on for the photo, and moments later without it once again. She sits amongst other elected and protestors, many of who aren’t wearing masks or have their masks pulled down.