I know what many of you were thinking when CNN moved Jim Acosta off of White House correspondent duty at the end of President Donald Trump’s administration: Who could fill his shoes? Who could be so nakedly partisan and woefully uninformed at the same time?
Thankfully, PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor has stepped into the void quite nicely. Not only is she taking your tax dollars; she’s asking the kind of questions not even Acosta would touch, like at the Joe Biden news conference where she asked the president if the border crisis was in part because of “the perception of you that got you elected as a moral, decent man is the reason why a lot of immigrants are coming to this country and entrusting you with unaccompanied minors.”
But don’t get the wrong idea: It’s not all sunshine and lollipops when Alcindor enters the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. She’ll hold press secretary Jen Psaki’s feet to the fire — especially when asking whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on vaccinated people being able to go maskless is actually racist.
Just so we’re clear what we’re talking about here, these are the CDC guidelines that state individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19 “can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic” and “[f]ully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
For over a year, we’ve been told to “follow the science” — the science, of course, being set by the fine people at the CDC. To Alcindor, however, some are saying that science might be racist:
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 17, 2021
During Monday’s media briefing at the White House, Alcindor said, “The largest national nurses union is saying that the CDC guidelines on masks is putting front-line workers, and especially people of color, at risk, and they’re calling for the CDC to reverse that.
“What’s the White House’s stance on that union in particular saying that their members and people of color are at risk?” she asked.
“Well, I would say we don’t have any particular response directly to the union,” Psaki responded.
According to an official White House transcript, Psaki went on to note that “the objective of the CDC and of Dr. Walensky was to deliver on the commitment she made to the American people, which was to provide guidance based on health and scientific evidence on what people can do that is safe. And so her guidance that was put out last week makes clear that if you have been vaccinated, their recommendation is that you are safe not to wear a mask inside, outside and when you’re not in large public gatherings.
“There’s going to be a determination about implementation, and there are going to be populations and communities where they take a different approach to implementation, because a lot of it is going to be based on the level of vaccination, the level in each community. So, we certainly respect and value that, but it is still our view is that science is the North Star. She was delivering on her promise, and we will continue to work with a range of communities on implementation.”
Alcindor’s remark referenced a campaign by National Nurses United to get the CDC to revoke the guidance, which the union says “is not based on science, does not protect public health, and threatens the lives of patients, nurses, and other frontline workers across the country.”
Don’t let the @CDCgov roll back our collective efforts at confronting the pandemic.
— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) May 16, 2021
“Now is not the time to relax protective measures, and we are outraged that the CDC has done just that while we are still in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in a century,” said National Nurses United executive director Bonnie Castillo, according to Fox News.
However, the statement from the union condemning the move doesn’t really quote much science; it just raises a whole host of what-if questions. For instance, one concern: “Circulation of Covid variants of concern that are more transmissible, deadlier, and may already be or may become vaccine resistant.” Problem: Studies have shown vaccines have efficacy against COVID variants. But hey, why let facts — otherwise known as science — get in the way?
And then there was what Alcindor was referencing: “There has been so much inequity in the vaccine rollout and racial inequity in who is a frontline worker put most at risk by this guidance. The impact of the CDC’s guidance update will be felt disproportionately by workers of color and their families and communities,” said National Nurses United president Zenei Triunfo-Cortez.
This statement is provided as-is, evidence-free. It’s good to see that Alcindor is taking the threat seriously, however:
The best part about this is that Yamiche is a person of color and she’s not wearing a mask.
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 17, 2021
Jim Acosta would be proud.
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