A few weeks ago, on the day the CDC announced the last overly cautious iteration of its guidance, he took heat from people like me for strolling out to the podium masked up to comment on it. Walking alone outdoors was one of the few activities the CDC said could be done safely maskless by the vaccinated or unvaccinated.
So why was our vaccinated president still masking up outdoors as a precaution?
Today was different. With the agency dropping most of its guidance for those who’ve been immunized, clearly Cautious Joe wanted to model his new freedom for Americans. And so, a milestone: The mask is off.
“There he is maskless” pic.twitter.com/RFuTFL6vnz
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 13, 2021
It wasn’t just for show either. It was off in the Oval Office too:
Following meeting with President Biden.
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 13, 2021
Then things got really serious:
White House aide made an official announcement over loudspeakers: “Masks optional if you’re vaccinated.”
Very happy mood here on the White House campus (including in the basement press work spaces, which have been very sparsely populated during coronavirus.) pic.twitter.com/UE2Vpp26OS
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) May 13, 2021
That applies to reporters on the premises too, of course. Congress seems to be changing its approach in light of the new guidance as well…
— NEWS CENTER Maine (@newscentermaine) May 13, 2021
…although some people either haven’t gotten the message or don’t understand how the science works here:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told me “no” she isn’t changing the rule requiring masks on the House floor.
“No,” Pelosi said. “Are they all vaccinated?”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 13, 2021
The whole point of the recommendations issued by the CDC today is that vaccinated people no longer need to tailor their behavior towards protecting the unvaccinated. Members of the House who’ve had their shots should be free to unmask. If unvaccinated members want to expose themselves to risk by being around them, and each other, that’s their decision to make. Frankly, since the unvaxxed contingent in the House no doubt skews heavily right, you’d think Pelosi would be indifferent to what they do at this point. It ain’t her caucus that’s going to be out sick if all the masks come off.
The word has clearly gone out to all arms of the executive branch that it’s time to incentivize vaccine holdouts to get their shots by promising them new freedom because Anthony Fauci suddenly seems to have undergone a total personality transplant:
CNN’s @jaketapper: “Do you think that places such as grocery stores, pharmacies, whatever, should allow vaccinated people to come in and shop without masks?”
Dr. Fauci: “Oh, yes. Absolutely. I mean, that’s really the whole point that we’re talking about.” pic.twitter.com/NL3MXaC7Bw
— The Recount (@therecount) May 13, 2021
Soon this guy’s going to be doing interviews live from crowded bars, unmasked, with a drink in his hand.
Over at NRO, Robert VerBruggen entertains a previously unthinkable thought: Full normalcy, the end of all COVID restrictions.
We should not be imposing restrictions on Americans to protect those who’ve chosen to put themselves at risk — and who, disproportionately, oppose the restrictions just as much as they distrust the vaccines anyway. We also should not impose restrictions in deference to the folks who have managed to become addicted to the thrill of being stricter than everyone else about COVID protocols, even long after they’ve been vaccinated…
I am completely done caring about COVID. Face it. It’s over. Get back to normal…
At this point, if you’re still fully vulnerable to COVID, you almost certainly fall into one of three categories: You’ll be immune very soon, you have deliberately refused the vaccine, or you’re a child who has extremely low risk of a severe case if you get infected. On the society-wide level, the threat is fading as immunity grows, and the remaining problem is increasingly concentrated among people who are vulnerable by choice.
If we’ve reached the stage where we need promotional stunts in order to find fresh arms to inoculate, writes VerBruggen, then there’s no reason to wait any longer on easing restrictions or else we’ll be waiting indefinitely. Why, look at what this poor sap has been reduced to now that he’s run out of New Yorkers eager to get jabbed:
I cant stop watching this. pic.twitter.com/XxUVHUD2qs
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) May 13, 2021
Can’t fault him for being in a good mood. NYC’s positivity rate is now under two percent. Cases have fallen to below 800 per day. The city where America’s pandemic exploded should be effectively past COVID in a matter of months.
I’ll leave you with Biden celebrating today’s CDC rule change.