Nancy Pelosi required masks at a Capitol event on Wednesday as Democrats signal a push for a return to mask mandates as the highly contagious Delta variant rips across America.
The House Speaker’s guests were ‘expected to wear a mask’ at a reception for the new sergeant at arms, according to ‘Member Arrival Instructions,’ Axios noted in their Thursday morning newsletter.
One of Pelosi’s staff members tested positive for coronavirus this week and the Delta variant was detected on Capitol Hill. A White House official also tested positive this week for COVID-19. Both individuals are fully vaccinated and attended the same reception last Wednesday.
The COVID-infected Pelosi staffer helped usher the runaway Texas Democratic lawmakers around the Capitol last week. Since then, six of those lawmakers have tested positive.
A Wednesday evening report also revealed President Joe Biden is considering recommending that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, go back to masking up.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said guests at a Capitol reception Wednesday night were ‘expected to wear a mask’ after one of her vaccinated staffers contracted coroanvirus
The face covering requirement Wednesday signals a back track in mandate relaxations after COVID cases surge and the Delta variant was detected on the Capitol complex this week
President Joe Biden (pictured at a CNN town hall on Wednesday) is also considering recommending Americans, regardless of vaccination status, return to wearing masks indoors, a new report revealed
He also said during a CNN town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio on Wednesday evening that children should mask up as they return to school in the fall.
‘The CDC is going to say that what you should do is, everyone under the age of 12 should probably be wearing masks in school,’ Biden said in answering a question from a school employee. ‘That’s probably what’s going to happen.’
‘I do not tell any scientists what they should do,’ Biden added.
Multiple sources told the Washington Post that high-level discussions are underway between top White House aides and Biden administration officials over whether the nation’s mask guidance should be updated following a spike in COVID-19 cases and plateau in vaccination rates.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed its mask guidance back in May, saying fully vaccinated Americans could go without masks in almost all indoor and outdoor settings, with the exception of public transport.
But since then, the Delta variant has spread rapidly, now accounting for 83 percent of all new infections on US soil and sending COVID-19 cases soaring 244 percent in the last three weeks.
The potential return to requirements for face coverings at the Capitol complex follows three lawmakers losing their appeals to get out of paying a fine for not previously adhering to the requirements.
The Delta variant now makes up 83% of all new infections and is sending cases soaring across America
(From left) Reps. Thomas Massie, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ralph Norman lost their appeals this week against Pelosi’s $500 fine for their refusal to wear masks on the floor of the House chamber. They argued it went against CDC guidance that stated ‘fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing’
Last year, Pelosi imposed mask requirements on the House chamber floor at the height of the pandemic. Some conservative members of Congress refused to adhere to those rules.
She eventually imposed a $500 fine for those who would not comply.
The House Ethics Committee released statements Tuesday noting Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Ralph Norman of South Carolina had failed in their appeals of $500 fines issued in May.
The Republicans argued in their June appeal that Pelosi’s mandate didn’t line up CDC guidance, which was updated a week before the incident, stating that ‘fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.’
Greene, Massie and Norman are now required to pay their $500 fines.
Officials in several states including California and Nevada have already started asking residents – including vaccinated people – to return to wearing face coverings indoors.
Sources told the Post that talks weighing whether to revise mask recommendations for vaccinated Americans are still in the early stages.
Officials are said to be mulling the possibility of simply updating the messaging coming from the White House or changing the official guidance from the CDC.
Two sources said one idea on the table is to ask all Americans to wear masks in public places or indoor settings where vaccinated and unvaccinated people are mixing.
This would include the likes of malls and movie theaters.
At Biden’s town hall on Wednesday, he again urged Americans to get vaccinated as the rate severely plummeted over the summer.
‘If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the IC unit, and you’re not going to die,’ said Biden on the stage at Mount St. Joseph University.
While 97 per cent of people hospitalized for COVID are unvaccinated, there are cases and deaths in those who received the vaccine.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned the entire country could be locked down again as early as this fall if Americans don’t get their COVID shots.
‘These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible, or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for that we went through last year,’ the Kentucky Republican said on Tuesday.
McConnell, who at age 79 is squarely in the ‘high-risk’ category for the virus, has been urging Americans to get vaccinated for months.
Biden said during a CNN town hall that the CDC will ‘probably’ recommend that those 12 and younger wear masks when they return to school in the fall
Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, who joined the CDC and state officials on several calls this week, told the Post several options are being discussed as officials are desperate to get ahead of the Delta variant.
‘It’s fair to say they are reconsidering everything,’ he said.
‘I think everything’s on the table’ including revisiting recommendations on masks and social distancing.
Another source said officials were approaching the issue in terms of ‘what are the levers we can pull to fight Delta.’
Officials are said to be hesitant to introduce any policy that will require people to show proof of their vaccination status, a source said.
This comes after several Republican governors signed laws banning vaccine passports in their states.
Any change in official guidance for wearing masks would come from the CDC rather than the White House and members of the nation’s health agency have joined in some of the talks, sources said.
HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO GET COVID-19 AFTER BEING FULLY VACCINATED?
So-called ‘breakthrough’ COVID-19 cases occur when people contract the disease 14 days or more after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson one-shot jab.
Clinical trials have shown that Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is 95% effective in preventing symptomatic disease and the Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective.
Meanwhile, real-world data showed the Pfizer jab is 91% effective against all disease for at least six months and the Moderna vaccine is 90% effective.
This means that fully vaccinated people are between 90% and 95% less likely to develop COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.
In addition, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trials showed 72% efficacy in the U.S., meaning those who got the one-shot jab are 72% less likely to contract the disease.
When comparing fully vaccinated people who did and did not get sick, the risk is even lower.
The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data show that 10,262 of at least 133 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 later contracted the disease.
This translates to 0.00716% of people who have completed their vaccine series have gone on to test positive.
It also represents the true odds of getting COVID-19 after full vaccination: less than 0.01%.
What’s more, fully vaccinated people who test positive have mild illnesses, and are very unlikely to be hospitalized or die.
The CDC states that 99.5% of all deaths occur in unvaccinated people.
That means, if the figure applies to the 3,165 Americans who’ve died in July 2021 so far – as of July 13 – about 3,150 deaths would be among unvaccinated people and 15 deaths among fully vaccinated people.
One source said the CDC has also been holding its own separate discussions on its mask policies.
The White House has repeatedly said it would not overstep the CDC when it comes to issuing guidance and will follow the science.
White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz told the Post the White House ‘follow[s] the guidance and advice of health and medical experts.
‘Public health guidance is made by the CDC, and they continue to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals do not wear a mask. If you are not vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask,’ he said.
CDC spokesman Jason McDonald told the outlet ‘at this time, we have no intention of changing our masking guidance.’
However, Biden hinted at a renewed push to wear masks Wednesday when he said the CDC will issue guidance requiring children under 12 and all unvaccinated students to wear masks in school.
Joe Biden on Wednesday said in a NN town hall (above) the CDC will soon issue guidance encouraging unvaccinated children to wear masks in schools
The nation’s vaccination rollout has stalled with just 48.8 percent of Americans fully vaccinated
‘The CDC is going to say that what we should do is, everyone under the age of 12 should probably be wearing a mask in school, that’s probably what’s going to happen,’ he said during a CNN town hall.
‘Secondly, those over the age of 12, who are able to get vaccinated if you’re vaccinated, you shouldn’t wear a mask if you aren’t vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask.’
His comments came after the American Association of Pediatrics recommended everyone over the age of 2 wear masks when they return to school.
Local officials have already started backpedaling on mask guidance amid a renewed virus outbreak.
At least 17 counties in California – home to 56 percent of the state’s residents – are now asking both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear face coverings in places such as grocery stores and movie theaters, reported The Los Angeles Times.
Just one of those counties, Los Angeles County, is requiring masks to be worn in these public settings.
CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky has warned that the current outbreak is becoming ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as most cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among people yet to take the shot
New Orleans officials issued an advisory ‘strongly recommending’ that people resume wearing masks indoors amid a rise in cases in the city.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell stopped short Wednesday of making masks a requirement saying the advisory ‘puts the responsibility on individuals themselves.’
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned she might do the same as infections rise in the city.
The backpedaling on mask guidance comes as officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of the Delta strain which is more highly contagious than other variants.
The Delta variant is now responsible for about 83 percent of all new cases and has been blamed for sending cases soaring across the country.
The US recorded 42,706 new cases on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 37,056, which is a 244 percent increase from the 10,771 average recorded three weeks ago.
Every state aside from Iowa has seen infections rise or hold steady in the last week, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
Additionally, 298 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 274.
CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky has warned that the current outbreak is becoming ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as most cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among people yet to take the shot.
The nation’s vaccination rollout has stalled with just 48.8 percent of Americans fully vaccinated.
States that have less vaccine uptake – such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee – are seeing hospitals starting to fill up.
Alabama has the lowest percentage of any state in America with just 33.7 percent of Alabama residents fully vaccinated
Cases have surged in recent weeks and 96 percent of people who have died since April 1 were not fully vaccinated.