President Joe Biden delivered a speech on Thursday that addressed the recent decision to recommend fully vaccinated people wear masks, the White House said Friday when asked about the lack of COVID-19 press briefings following the sudden reversal.
“Why are the doctors not here in the briefing room to take our questions? Why have we not had a COVID briefing?” a reporter asked White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in Washington.
The reporter noted that Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced the new mask recommendations on Tuesday in a teleconference briefing. However, since then, the White House COVID-19 Response Team has forgone their customary updates.
“I would argue that we had the President of the United States speak to this yesterday. He gave a more than 30-minute speech about where we are as a country. I mean, he is a trusted voice; he’s the leader of our country,” Jean-Pierre said.
“But he’s not a scientist,” the reporter said.
“No, but we heard from him, right? We heard from the President yesterday. We heard from the President about the Delta variant and vaccinations, in general, the day before yesterday, when he was in Pennsylvania, when he was supposed to talk about Buy American, which he did, but he led off talking about the vaccinations,” the deputy press secretary responded.
“We have had our doctors on your networks, on many of the networks that are here, talking—probably all of them—talking about the Delta variant all throughout these last couple of days. So they have been out there. They have been talking about it,” she added.
Walensky, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other officials typically hold press conferences on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week.
Walensky and Fauci appeared on various networks following the CDC’s announcement, which initially had no published data to support it. The CDC published one study on Friday they said motivated the change. An internal CDC document that was leaked and published online cited other studies dealing with COVID-19, some of which have not been peer-reviewed.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The research indicates that vaccines don’t protect against the Delta variant of the virus as well as other variants, and that vaccinated people who contract the variant have similar viral loads, or amount of virus, as unvaccinated people.
That’s stoked fears that vaccinated people can transmit the variant.
During one of her TV appearances, Walensky claimed that wearing masks and getting more people vaccinated could halt the “chain of transmission” of the Delta variant in a couple of weeks.
Fauci, meanwhile, defended the abrupt shift in mask guidance.
“Even though two months ago the CDC came out with the recommendation that individuals who are vaccinated do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, something has changed. What has changed is the virus. The CDC hasn’t changed. The CDC hasn’t really flipped-flopped,” he said on MSNBC.
Biden also blamed the Delta variant for the rise in COVID-19 cases.
“This is a much different variant than the one we dealt with previously. It’s highly transmissible, and it’s causing a new wave of cases in those who are not vaccinated,” he said in his speech on Thursday.
“Our experts tell me that cases will go up further before they start to come back down. But while cases are on the rise, they’re not—we’re not likely to see, according to experts, a comparable rise in hospitalizations or deaths in most areas of the country,” he added.
Protection against severe illness from vaccination is preventing a rise in hospitalizations and deaths and Americans who have not gotten a jab should get one, the president said.
About half of Americans are fully vaccinated against the CCP virus as of Friday, with another 26 million having gotten at least one dose of a vaccine.