White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday insisted that the new federal guidance on masks came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a back-and-forth with Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy during a briefing.
Psaki said the guidance that vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, or physically distance, was made by the CDC. “Not by us, not by the president,” Psaki said, adding that the White House was working to implement the new guidance “across the government.”
“Our North Star has been listening to the guidance of our medical and health experts and teams and that’s exactly what we’re doing in this case,” Psaki said.
When Doocy asked about how the administration planned to enforce the new guidance, with still a large majority of Americans awaiting their coronavirus vaccines, Psaki said it would be up to states and businesses to decide.
“So, what happened to President Biden saying in March that he thought lifting mask mandates before every adult American goes and gets a shot is ‘Neanderthal thinking?’” Doocy asked.
She did not specifically respond to Doocy’s question.
“The guidance is not telling states and localities exactly how they should implement,” Psaki replied, noting that some states and communities were ahead of others in terms of vaccinating large swaths of their populations, and that it would be up to those communities and businesses how best to implement the new guidance.
The CDC issued the new mask guidance on Thursday. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, though, said fully vaccinated individuals were still advised to wear masks while in crowded indoor settings, such as while riding public transportation and in hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
Walensky added that immunocompromised individuals, however, should consult a physician before giving up masks, warning that if the country’s cases of COVID-19 increase again, the guidance on masks could change.
“This virus can be unpredictable, so if things get worse, there is always a chance we need to make a change to these recommendations,” Walensky said Thursday.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers questioned the administration’s timing on the new mask guidance.
“Why today? The science hasn’t changed,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., tweeted.
“While the new mask guidance is encouraging, the CDC and my Far Radical Left colleagues only chose to do this to distract from the consequences of catastrophic policy decisions that have been heard around the world,” Rep. Andy Biggs, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said Thursday. “Inflation is rising, the Middle East is in shambles, the working class can’t fill up their gas tanks, our border is being overrun and the Biden Administration’s leadership is nowhere to be found.”
This is an excerpt from Fox News.
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