And today in “Mystery COVID Theater 3000,” we have President Joe Biden wearing a mask for a long outdoor walk to an isolated lectern to give a speech at the White House.
But not just any speech, mind you.
On Tuesday, Biden stepped out to announce new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding outdoor mask-wearing for fully vaccinated people. The CDC, generally known for almost comical over-circumspection in these matters, had reversed course on this one.
“Because of the extraordinary progress we’ve made in fighting this virus, and the progress our scientists have made in learning about how it gets transmitted, earlier today, the CDC made an important announcement,” Biden said.
“Starting today, if you’re fully vaccinated and you’re outdoors, you need, and not in a big crowd, you no longer need to wear a mask.”
He went on to add that “beginning today, gathering with a group of friends in a park, going for a picnic, as long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without a mask.”
I’m not sure what was so special about April 27 that meant we’d crossed a threshold where the COVID Sanhedrin were finally willing to let us do what we’d been doing anyway, but Biden said the science was clear.
“The CDC is able to make this announcement because our scientists are convinced by the data that the odds of getting or giving the virus to others is very, very low if you’re both been fully vaccinated and out in the open air,” Biden said.
“The CDC also have clarified which outdoor activities are safer or less safe, depending on whether you’ve been vaccinated. The bottom line is clear. If you’re vaccinated, you can do more things more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors.”
Listen to the science, people:
These remarks were echoed by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a White House virtual briefing, also Tuesday.
“If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, or dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households, the science shows if you are vaccinated, you can do so safely unmasked,” Walensky said, according to CNN.
Just to be clear, this doesn’t apply to crowded outdoor activities: “Generally, for vaccinated people, outdoor activities without a mask are safe. However, we continue to recommend masking in crowded outdoor settings and venues, such as packed stadiums and concerts where there is decreased ability to maintain physical distance and where many unvaccinated people may also be present,” Walensky said.
“We will continue to recommend this until widespread vaccination is achieved.”
So, no permission slip from the CDC for that kind of thing — except, of course, if you’re attending a Black Lives Matter protest or celebrating the electoral victory of, oh, say, Joe Biden. Then you’re invincible. Social justice, apparently, is an ironclad prophylactic against viral transmission, even if it took place before effective vaccines were even available.
But I digress: The science is clear, people! If you’re vaccinated and you’re in an outdoor setting where you’re not packed like open-air sardines, you don’t need to wear a mask. To announce this, therefore, the president began with a bit of science denial:
WATCH: Biden defies science by walking outside with a mask on. pic.twitter.com/jX0Dvm24Hz
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 27, 2021
I understand Biden is the mask-signaller-in-chief, often seen putting on a cloth covering over an N95 mask before that was even considered A Thing™. Here he is last November, shortly after the election:
This Veterans Day, I feel the full weight of the honor and the responsibility that has been entrusted to me by the American people as the next president, and I vow to honor our country’s sacred obligation. pic.twitter.com/BuynOGvSO0
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 11, 2020
Yet, Biden was often prone to forgetting his mask in indoor situations:
Joe Biden walks away without his mask again… the audience chuckles when he comes back to get it. pic.twitter.com/wBAmmEWHj6
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 25, 2021
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) February 25, 2021
Not that this would have made a practical difference; Biden is a vaccinated man who likely spends most of his days around similarly vaccinated individuals. He’s also a man prone to forgetting things like, say, the name of the Pentagon or the state he’s in. However, if you’re going to be the country’s primary mask scold, these are things you should probably remember.
And yet, on the one day it would behoove him to ditch the mask, particularly on a long walk out to an isolated podium, he kept the bloody thing on.
Biden’s mask habits aren’t science, they’re branding. He’s the man in the mask, an ultra-careful corrective to the last resident of the White House: Look ma, no Trump! The thing is, people aren’t zombies, looking to their president to set an example for them. They do notice hypocrisy and grandstanding in their leaders, however — and they know full well when to tune leaders out.
It’s worth noting that at the end of the speech, Biden was questioned by a reporter about the discord between the content of the speech and the facial covering he wore as he walked out to give it.
“You chose to wear a mask as you walked out here. What message were you sending by wearing a mask outside, alone?” they asked.
“And watching me take it off, and not put it back on till I get inside,” Biden responded.
Makes as much sense as wearing the mask to the podium in the first place, I suppose.
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