May 15, 2021
BY: Steve Johnson
TRUENEWSBLOG — The CDC’s surprise decision this week to drop its recommendation that vaccinated Americans wear masks in public spaces was the best news some of us have received in months.
And it turns out the White House barely got any notice. On Wednesday evening, a small huddle of senior White House aides were told about the CDC’s decision. President JOE BIDEN was informed on Thursday morning that the announcement was coming — just hours ahead of time — according to a senior White House source.
But most staffers found out on Thursday, after a scoop from the AP, according to White House sources, and didn’t receive an official WH email about it until after the CDC’s Covid-19 briefing. That email, which a source read me over the phone, announced that masks were no longer required on White House grounds for fully vaccinated people, and promised that “[o]ther changes will follow as implemented by the CDC.”
“The information wasn’t widely shared before the CDC announcement because it was their decision to make, not ours,” an administration official told me.
For a White House that prides itself on its discipline in sticking to a schedule and message, the speed of the turnaround was head-spinning. CDC Director ROCHELLE WALENSKY told the public she was “scared” about rising cases and alluded to a sense of “impending doom” less than two months ago; the updated guidance that fully vaccinated Americans were free to walk outside, sans mask, came less than three weeks ago. While jarring, the change is obviously welcome. If you talk to administration officials, they say this will serve as an incentive for the unvaccinated to run out and get their shots.
But not every health expert agrees that the new mask guidelines are helpful. On Friday, WaPo interviewed “more than a dozen physicians” who “expressed concern that the decision was premature, coming only days after regulators cleared a vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds and while so many are still unprotected. They feared the guidelines could undercut two of the simplest and most effective tools — masks and physical distancing — for stopping the spread of [the] virus.” More on that from WaPo
Even so, mask mandates are getting dropped, as Ben Leonard reports: “Virginia Gov. RALPH NORTHAM, a Democrat, lifted his state’s indoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated people effective Saturday at 12 a.m. Maryland Gov. LARRY HOGAN , a Republican, a Republican, announced he was lifting the mandate for everyone effective Saturday, though masks are still ‘strongly recommended’ for unvaccinated people. … D.C. Mayor MURIEL BOWSER said Thursday that ‘we are immediately reviewing the CDC guidance and will update DC Health Guidance accordingly.–