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What difference does a vaccine make (that, and the CDC’s guidelines that vaccinated people can safely do anything free of masks). In the White House in Biden, which has been a COVID-19 wary bubble for longer than in many parts of the country, it looks like 2019 again, with major and largely mask-free events in the East Room on Thursday and Friday.
The White House is opening up like the rest of the country Sort by what the latest instructions mean And how it applies to them. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that fully vaccinated people can be indoors or outdoors without masks, Mask rules still apply in some settings.
Critics, including some healthcare professionals, generally criticize that without requiring proof of protection the swing in directions Vaccinations can be discouraged. Others worry children who are too young to be vaccinated Can be left exposed If people who were not vaccinated gave up their masks as well.
But in a highly vaccinated White House bubble, the administration is embracing prescriptive change.
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at Medal of Honor ceremony For Colonel Ralph Paquette Jr., a veteran of the Korean War, there were about 60 people in the room. The 94-year-old Paquette stood without his walk as President Biden placed the medal around his neck and came close, whispering in his ear.
Biden, who kept shaking hands before the pandemic and was known to talk closely, appears to be back in shape, embracing the mask-free freedom.
“Get the family up here, all of you, including the grandchildren,” Biden said, as more than a dozen family members piled on stage to pose for a picture of Phuket seated. Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in kneeled on one knee to his sides as Biden directed family members to make sure everyone was visible in the shot.
The scene was similar on Thursday, when 68 people were ready to sign a bill. Cabinet ministers, senior congressional aides and members of Congress were on the move before the event, most without masks, and put weapons around each other, laughing. It was a completely natural scene that emerged straight from the non-epidemic times and stark contrast to the early days of the Biden administration.
During the first 113 days or so, at the White House in Biden, binoculars were cleared between the speakers, and social distancing and double concealment was the rule. They were very serious about avoiding large gatherings, and the staff counted how many people were in the room to attend a meeting, often They were meeting via Zoom from neighboring offices. This continued even as the vast majority of employees were vaccinated.
Everything changed, all of a sudden, when The CDC announced last week That people who have been fully vaccinated can avoid their masks. White House aides were told via email shortly after the announcement that they were no longer required to wear masks in the office. The atmosphere was festive, with freshly visible smiles everywhere.
Since then, the White House that has been criticized for being slow to fully emulate the benefits of a pollinated life has been quick to embrace it.
“I can confirm that we are a warm and mysterious crew and would love to have a hug here, but we have been waiting for that to be allowed under the CDC’s guidelines, which we definitely adhere to,” Press Secretary Jane Psaki said at a press conference on Friday.
White House staff Tweets from mask-free meetings That could’ve actually been done only weeks ago.
The vaccinated members of the press also threw their masks at televised briefings. Psaki said Friday that “holding more events with more people” and “welcoming the return of a full briefing room very soon” will be part of a return to a new normal as an increasing proportion of the population is vaccinated and the number of coronavirus cases decreases.
Unmasked photos from the White House were disturbing to some Americans seeing them from home (and commenting on social media) CDC director Rochelle Walsky acknowledged that the relocation will take some time during a press conference on Friday.
“When we issued our guidelines … and science said it was safe to do so, we also acknowledge that not everyone feels it is time to take off their masks,” she said.
In response to a question about how the White House tracks vaccinations among those attending White House events or press conferences, Psaki said: “This is not the role we will play.” She said the directives from the CDC were about how people can protect themselves, and people who have been vaccinated are protected from COVID-19, without the need for a mask.
“The real question is how will people who have yet to be vaccinated protect themselves?” Psaki said.