Both the White House and the United States Capitol have reinstated mask mandates in the wake of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their mask-wearing guidance.
Along with this, the House has also issued a “threat of fines” for any members of Congress who do not comply with the mandate.
“Capitol Attending Physician Brian Monahan said late Tuesday that the House of Representatives is reinstating its mask mandate – and therefore the threat of fines to members who don’t comply – following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the delta variant of the coronavirus,” Fox News stated in a new report on Wednesday.
The White House is also putting out a mask mandate of its own.
“A White House press representative was seen Tuesday swapping a sign saying people are required to wear masks if unvaccinated with another saying masks are required regardless of vaccination status,” Fox went on to state.
The CDC has largely rescinded its recommendations for indoor mask mandates earlier this year, after cases of COVID-19 dropped dramatically across the country and vaccination rates inched up. On Tuesday, however, amid concerns about the disease’s Delta variant, the CDC “revised” those masking recommendations again, suggesting that individuals who live in areas with an outbreak of the Delta variant return to masking when indoors, even if they are fully vaccinated.
Monahan sent a letter to House Members Tuesday night reinstituting the mandate — and the fines.
“For the Congress, representing a collection of individuals traveling weekly from various risk areas (both high and low rates of disease transmission), all individuals should wear a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask (for example an earloop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space,” Monahan went on to write.
“To be clear, for meetings in an enclosed US House of Representatives controlled space, masks are REQUIRED,” Monahan continued. “Failure to wear a mask in the Hall of the House is subject to fines imposed for violation as contained in the previous House rule.”
The only people not mandated to wear masks are those individuals who currently hold the floor or are seeking the floor.
As of late May, most Members of Congress were vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Democratic lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have a 100% vaccination rate against Covid-19, a CNN survey of Capitol Hill found this week, significantly outpacing Republicans in the House and Senate and illustrating the partisan divide over the pandemic,” CNN said in their report. “For Republicans, at least 44.8% of House members are vaccinated and at least 92% of senators are.”
The decision by the CDC was received with a bit of confusion, according to Fox News, with many, including a number of state governors putting the guidelines on blast as unscientific, especially the guidelines for kids in grades K-12 that requires them to mask up, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the current director of the CDC, attempted to defend the guidelines during interviews with the media Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Information on the delta variant from several states and other countries indicate that in rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others,” Walensky stated during a press conference. “This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”