The COVID rules are changing so fast these days that the people in charge of this country don’t even know what to do.
Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday went beyond new CDC mask guidelines by putting on a face covering and forcing reporters and guests to do so as well — even though Washington did not immediately impose an indoor mask rule.
Confusion reigned as aides to Harris claimed that the DC government had just imposed a new indoor mask rule, despite the capital city falling below the CDC threshold with only a “moderate” rate of COVID-19 transmission — meaning that the CDC doesn’t encourage the adoption of local indoor mask requirements.
Perplexed reporters reached out to Washington, DC, officials, who said later in the afternoon that the city was reviewing the CDC guidance but was not requiring masks indoors.
The CDC on Tuesday said that areas with “substantial” or “high” rates of COVID-19 transmission should re-adopt indoor mask rules.
About an hour after the federal guidance was updated, Harris aides told reporters in the White House complex that they had to don a mask to enter an event with Harris and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Native American voting rights.
A photo posted to Twitter by Christian Datoc of the Washington Examiner shows Harris at the head of a table wearing a mask.
All reporters in the room had been tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday and most — if not all of them — are vaccinated against the virus.
It’s unclear if Harris’ office was given a heads up about a looming DC announcement.
In a subsequent statement, the DC government said it was looking at the CDC guidelines.
“DC Health is reviewing the updated CDC guidance related to mask wearing. Similar to trends across the nation, the District of Columbia has experienced a four-fold increase in its daily case rate since the beginning of July,” the city health department said.
“DC’s transmission increase is driven primarily by unvaccinated individuals. We know that COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community. COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective in preventing COVID-19 disease, hospitalizations, and death.”
The DC health department said that “[w]earing a mask in indoor public settings provides an additional layer of protection for those who are fully vaccinated—and continues to be one of the key ways to protect those who cannot be vaccinated, namely young children. If you are eligible to be vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to do so immediately to minimize the risk of disease, hospitalization, or death.”
It’s unclear if Harris’ team was mistaken about the status of local mask rules. Spokespeople for Harris’ office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Harris addressed the issue of masks during her remarks at the event.
“No one likes wearing masks … people need to get vaccinated. That’s the only way we’re going to cut this off. Nobody likes wearing a mask,” Harris said.
The CDC issued the mask pivot and also urged all K-12 schools to require masks despite vaccination status due to the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.
According to CDC data, about 69 percent of US adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. About 60 percent of adults are fully vaccinated.