'I Didn't Say That': Biden Clashes With Reporter Over His Remarks Vaxxed People Don't Need Masks
© REUTERS / EVELYN HOCKSTEINU.S. President Joe Biden holds his mask as he speaks about the pace of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccinations in the United States during remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2021
© REUTERS / EVELYN HOCKSTEIN
In an about-face on Tuesday, Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that fully vaccinated people should wear face masks in "indoor public settings" in areas with high COVID case counts.
US President Joe Biden has taken aim at a reporter who stated that just a couple of months ago, POTUS said vaccinated people would no longer need to wear masks, but that now Biden is urging them to follow the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s reversed mask policy.
The incident took place on Thursday as the US president was wrapping up his White House address, in which he announced a number of new measures to boost vaccination rates around the country, also supporting the CDC's new mask guidance.
Moments before Biden walked out of the East Room, Fox News White House reporter Peter Doocy tuned to POTUS, saying "in May you made it sound like the [COVID-19] vaccine was the ticket to losing the mask forever".
The president responded by claiming that he "didn't say that", adding: "I said if you're fully vaccinated in an area where you do not have – well, let me clarify, that was true at the time".
"I thought people would understand that getting vaccinated made a gigantic difference, and what happened was a new variant came along, they didn't get vaccinated, it spread more rapidly and more people are getting sick. That's the difference", Biden said.
Three months ago, the president said that "if you've been fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. It's vaxxed or masked".
Biden's spar with Doocy comes a few days after the CDC reversed its mask policy, recommending that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high COVID-19 transmission rates "to help prevent the spread of the Delta variant, and protect others".
"This pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to the health of all Americans. Today, we have new science related to the Delta variant that requires us to update the guidance regarding what you can do when you are fully vaccinated", CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stressed. In mid-May, the CDC said that fully vaccinated people didn't need to wear masks in most settings, whether indoors or outdoors.
The Washington Post has, meanwhile, cited an internal CDC document as claiming that the Delta strain spreads as easily as chickenpox, with fully vaccinated people also allegedly transmitting the virus. The report comes amid an increasing surge in COVID cases in the US, where the Delta strain has accounted for over 80% of new infections as of July 20th.