White House Eyes Push for Return of Masks

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Biden administration officials and top White House aides are discussing whether they should urge vaccinated Americans to wear masks in additional settings, The Washington Post is reporting.

As the delta variant spreads, officials are now debating whether they should push for new mask recommendations, six people familiar with the discussions told the newspaper. Some of the talks include representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who are separately examining whether to update their masking guidance.

White House officials maintained any new guidance on masks would have to come from the CDC. They insist the White House has taken steps to ensure there is no interference with the work of scientists.

“At the White House, we follow the guidance and advice of health and medical experts,” said Kevin Munoz, assistant press secretary. “Public health guidance is made by the CDC, and they continue to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals do not wear a mask. If you are not vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask.”

But two sources tell the Post that one idea being discussed in some of the talks would be to ask everyone to wear masks when vaccinated and unvaccinated people mix in public places or indoors, like in malls.

Word of the talks came as former Trump administration Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a mea culpa on advising against masks at the start of the pandemic, and added a warning the CDC acted too swiftly under the Biden administration to lift mask recommendations.

Adams said he speaks from experience, the CDC needs to reverse its lifting of its mask recommendations sooner than later, tweeting:

“Now you have health officials, cities & counties (eg LA County), & likely soon states issuing guidance in direct conflict w/ the mask guidance @CDCgov issued a month ago. The sooner CDC says we were wrong, & hits the reset button, the better.

“Trust me- I know more than anyone.”

And the Post pointed out that the new talks of mask recommendations come as the U.S. is seeing more than 40,000 new cases of coronavirus infections a day, while the rate of vaccinations continues to slow.

A return to recommendations for additional masking would be a blow to President Joe Biden’s efforts to convince Americans that the virus is in retreat, according to the Post.

Success against COVID-19 is a message that Biden hopes to use in the 2022 midterm elections to help Democrats retain control of the House and Senate, the newspaper said.