Fox News reporter asks about May declaration that vaccinated Americans can ditch masks
President Joe Biden explained the severity of the Delta variant to Fox News reporter Peter Doocy at the White House during a press conference, after the reporter asked about face masks being potentially reintroduced nationwide.
The president was answering questions from reporters in the East Room and faced a question a from the Fox News White House correspondent about the tightening of rules around wearing face masks, seeming to imply that the commander-in-chief was backtracking on a promise.
“In May, you made it sound like the vaccine was the ticket to losing the mask forever,” Mr Doocy said to Mr Biden.
The CDC said in May that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks indoors altogether. This advice has since been revised in light of the threat from the Delta variant. They now suggest wearing a mask while indoors while in an area of “substantial or high transmission”.
According to CDC data, there are 1,680 counties marked to have a “high” risk of transmission and 551 counties marked as ‘substantial’ risk. The substantial risk has increased by 17 per cent and in total, the two categories makes up 69 per cent of the US.
“That was true at the time.I thought people would understand that getting vaccinated made a gigantic difference,” Mr Biden said. “What happened was a new variant came along, they didn’t get vaccinated, it was spread more rapidly, and more people were getting sick.”
“That’s the difference,” he said before walking out of the room on 29 July.
Although the vaccine is not a guarantee against contracting Covid-19, being fully vaccinated greatly reduces the severity of the infection and chance of dying or hospitalisation. Preliminary data from the CDC showed that 99.5 per cent of deaths were among unvaccinated individuals.
“Our biggest concern is that we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalisations and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated,” Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said on 16 July.
Mr Biden has been pushing for more people to get vaccinated against the virus. Earlier at the press conference, he announced that he was offering $100 to anyone to getting vaccinated.
Mr Biden also outlined plans to make federal workers getting vaccinated mandatory to maintain their employment.
Additionally, he acknowledged the political issue that getting vaccinated had become and thanked Republican leaders for advocating getting jabbed, such as Kay Ivey, governor of Alabama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“This is not about red states and blue states,” Mr Biden said to reporters. “It’s literally about life and death.”