President Biden is sending mixed messages by wearing a mask out in the open, say critics who cite the government’s latest guidance that vaccinated people can lose the face-coverings while outdoors.
But the White House says the boss is just careful and a creature of habit.
Anita Dunn, a White House senior adviser, said Sunday that Mr. Biden wears his mask outdoors as an added precaution.
“It has become such a matter of habit,” Ms. Dunn told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We do take some extra precautions for him because he is the president of the United States.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week said people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which occurs two weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two weeks after receiving the second Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, do not need to wear a mask outdoors and could also dispense with the mask inside, as long as they are only near other fully vaccinated people.
Mr. Biden has been fully vaccinated since January.
Ms. Dunn said the president relies upon and trusts the CDC, pushing back on critics who say his continued wearing of the mask sends a mixed message and suggests that he doesn’t trust the vaccine.
Dr. Leana Wen, medical analyst for CNN and Baltimore’s former health commissioner, said last week that the president’s decision to continue wearing a mask outdoors “makes public health measures seem performative rather than science-based.”
Ms. Wen said, “at worst, it calls vaccine efficacy into question.”
Ms. Dunn encouraged people Sunday to get vaccinated so they can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with taking precautions against the virus.
“It’s a lot more fun to take that outside walk without a mask,” said Ms. Dunn. “As people get vaccinated, they are enjoying it and they are enjoying their freedom.”
But the president’s adviser stopped short of saying the president wants to see all schools open in the fall.
“It’s an unpredictable virus … it mutates,” Ms. Dunn said. “We can’t look in a crystal ball and say what September looks like.”
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