Friday, 8 September 2023

Joe Biden's joke about not wearing face mask despite COVID-19 exposure says it all: 'I didn't have it on'

 President Joe Biden joked on Wednesday about skirting CDC guidelines on wearing a mask after being exposed to COVID-19.

On Monday, the White House announced that first lady Jill Biden had tested positive for COVID-19. The president, however, tested negative. 

That meant Biden could continue his daily work, but he would have to mask up when indoors and around other people in compliance with CDC guidance for people exposed to COVID-19, which states:

Wear a high-quality mask or respirator (e.g., N95) any time you are around others inside your home or indoors in public.

But Biden is clearly not interested in abiding by that guidance.

While walking into the State Dining Room to discuss a new contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, Biden carried a black face mask in his hand before stepping up to the lectern and cracking a joke about not wearing it.

"Hello, everybody. Let me explain to the press: I've been tested again today. I'm clear across the board, but they keep telling me, because this has to be 10 days or something, I got to keep wearing it," Biden said. 

"But don't tell them I didn’t have it on when I walked in," he quipped.

Whether masks protect against COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses is debated. While health authorities assert they do, a systematic review published in January asserted wearing a mask "probably makes little or no difference to the outcome" of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 compared to not wearing them. 

Oxford epidemiologist Tom Jefferson, the first author of that study, said after its publication, "There is just no evidence that [masks] make any difference."

"Makes no difference — none of it," he explained, saying policymakers who enacted mask mandates during the pandemic were "convinced by nonrandomized studies, flawed observational studies."

Still, it is telling that not even Biden, at 81 years old, wants to wear his mask despite his own government's guidance, the White House saying he would follow that guidance, and his elevated risk of contracting and spreading the virus.

Not wearing his face mask at Wednesday's event was the second time in as many days that Biden skirted CDC guidance.

Biden removed his face mask at a Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House on Tuesday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later excused the clear violation of CDC guidance.

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