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Confusion over masks triggers new political showdown

White House top adviser Anita Dunn on Sunday defended President Joe Biden over his continued use of a mask outdoors – though this practice appears to conflict with new and relaxed administration guidelines for fully vaccinated citizens.

In comments that did not necessarily clarify the situation, Dunn told CNN’s Jake Tapper about “State of the Union” that “extra precautions” were taken for the president and that wearing a mask was “a matter of habit.”

Republicans trying to put up strong public approval ratings for Biden̵
7;s handling of the pandemic have already accused him of whipping up stigma against people who refuse to wear masks that include many conservatives. The Republican National Committee, for example, blew up Biden for “breaking” American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the issue has become one of the latest flash points for culture war for right-wing talk show hosts.

Republicans are using the controversy over masks to bolster their broader narrative that Biden and Democrats are too politically correct and use government power to violate American freedoms – a conceit that works for them on taxes on guns and public health on climate change.

The exchanges suggest that a secure dismantling of the network of Covid-19 measures will prove to be as controversial as their implementation, proving that little is immune to politicization in a nation alienated from ideology.

Debates among political rivals and in the medical community and conversations between citizens about how to get out of a year of isolation are almost certainly only the first of a series of arguments about how vaccinated and non-vaccinated people can behave. The coming months are likely to see a stream of controversy, including in the hospitality industry, cruising, education, aviation and those triggered by the masses returning to work.

It is not only political factions that are using the issue for biased advantage – though it is happening as Covid-19 restrictions continue to disperse the American tension between individual freedom and government reach. Medical experts are engaging in an intense debate over whether the CDC is too cautious about the way it loosens masking advice or gives the public conflicting, confusing advice.

This medical debate is giving way to an escalating political debate as families struggle to assess their risks, look to leaders for advice and try to decide if and how to travel, vacation and socialize in the surprisingly frightening process of resuming their pre-pandemic activities.

‘A patriotic responsibility’

The complications of leaving the pandemic – a process that no one currently in positions of power has ever experienced – explain why Biden’s success in getting more than 100 million Americans fully vaccinated does not mean that Covid-19 is no longer dangerous or any less political treacherous to the White House.

The return to pre-pandemic life seems close, but Covid-19 confusion is still for many Americans
The recent debate over wearing a mask – a practice that ex-President Donald Trump did much to politicize unnecessarily during his negligent handling of the pandemic – was sparked by the president himself. He was wearing a mask while walking to a microphone at an outside announcement in the White House last week announcing new methods of masks. He then told NBC News in an interview that it was a “patriotic responsibility” for vaccinated people to continue to do so. His comment came despite evidence that vaccines are highly effective and that Covid-19 is far less transmissible outdoors than in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor environments.
The president’s remarks followed the new CDC guide last week, which means that fully vaccinated people can now deworm at small outdoor gatherings or when eating out with friends from multiple households. Unvaccinated people still need to cover their faces.

The advice encapsulated the riddle that may be impossible to solve in a nation where many people are now fully vaccinated – but millions more are refusing to do so at a time when the virus is still circulating widely.

Researchers and administration officials need to weigh up, giving incentives to reluctant Americans to get vaccinated – by talking about the restored freedoms that it can bring, while avoiding giving the impression that everyone should tear their masks off . Meanwhile, it seems that many Americans in the first blush of summer are taking matters into their own hands with masks worn anecdotally down in some towns and cities on the East Coast over the weekend.

After months of emphasizing caution and sticking to restrictions – after an inability to cost thousands of lives under Trump – Biden now seems to risk paying a political price for being too careful, even though his initial caution turned out to be successful.

Scientists are also not united over masks

The political debate about masks is reflected in the medical community.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a famous cardiac surgeon and professor at George Washington University, said the CDC had been “too cautious.”

“They have both been very competent since the new administration took over and very cautious,” Reiner told CNN’s Inside Politics on Sunday.

Reiner said that while he had been adamant about wearing a mask during the first 12 months of the pandemic, he was confident that someone who has been fully vaccinated is immune to Covid-19 no longer needs to wear a mask in public. and can do the same inside.

Experts disagree with the new CDC mask guide.  Here's what they say.

“It’s time for the CDC to start embracing this kind of two-pronged approach and perhaps give the unvaccinated a touch of what life can be like if they get vaccinated,” he said.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said that with average daily new cases of Covid-19 still above 50,000 and with many adults refusing to be vaccinated, government experts will continue to be cautious.

“The CDC will be reluctant to withdraw mandates for indoor masks, and I think that’s right,” Jha said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“This is a pretty dangerous time to be unvaccinated, but what the CDC is signaling is if you are fully vaccinated, liberties are just getting safer and more secure for humans.”

GOP senator warns against ‘shame’ vaccine holdouts

While public health experts warn that maximizing vaccinations is crucial to creating the herd immunity needed to stop the spread of Covid-19, approx. 44% of Republicans in a CNN poll last week that they would not try to get an inoculation.

And one Republican, Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, warned the administration over the weekend against trying to pressure or stigmatize this group.

“It’s America. Everyone has an individual right. I think one of the things we need to be careful about is not to embarrass people or talk down to them or object to their lifestyle,” Marshall said. to CNN’s Pamela Brown on “Newsroom” “on Saturday.

Marshall, who is also a doctor, has worked to convince people that vaccines are the best way to ensure a speedy return to normal life. But he argued that many Americans were alienated by confusion over masks.

“They’ve been told they do not need a mask. They need a mask. They have been told that even if you have a vaccine, you must continue to wear the mask,” Marshall said.

But Dunn told Tapper that the best way to alleviate such worries and get rid of masks for good is to get vaccinated.

“People need to follow the CDC guidelines, and they should benefit from getting the vaccine, being fully vaccinated and taking off the mask, especially when the weather is growing so beautiful and we all want to be outside,” Dunn said.

“It’s a lot more fun to go outside without a mask,” she said.

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