Biden Attends Medal of Honor Ceremony
During a Medal of Honor ceremony for Captain Larry Taylor, President Joe Biden, who had recently been in close contact with First Lady Jill Biden, initially wore a face mask in compliance with White House guidelines. However, he quickly removed it during the prayer portion of the event, contrary to the White House’s stated intention for him to continue wearing it. Despite testing negative for COVID-19 and displaying no symptoms, Biden will follow CDC guidelines for testing and masking.
White House’s Masking Guidelines
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre explained that Biden would wear a mask indoors when appropriately distanced from others. She emphasized that he would continue to adhere to CDC guidance, removing his mask when sufficiently distanced both indoors and outdoors.
During the ceremony, both President Biden and Captain Taylor removed their face coverings while standing next to each other on the stage, with Biden placing the medal around Taylor’s neck. Biden did not put his mask back on as he exited the East Room, instead giving a thumbs-up when asked about the first lady’s health.
Jill Biden’s Absence
Jill Biden, who tested positive for COVID-19, missed the first day of school as she remains at their Rehoboth Beach home. She teaches English at Northern Virginia Community College and is arranging for a substitute to cover her classes for the week. The first lady is currently experiencing mild symptoms but is not in the White House.
COVID-19 Situation in the U.S.
COVID-19 cases are surging across the country, with hospitalizations increasing by nearly 19% and deaths by over 21% in a week, according to late August CDC data. Two new variants, including Omicron variant EG.5 (Eris), have been reported in the U.S.
President’s Schedule and Testing
Despite close contact with his wife, President Biden continues to test negative for COVID-19. He spent Sunday night with Jill before flying to Philadelphia for a Labor Day speech to union workers. The president is scheduled to attend the G20 summit in New Delhi, India, with regular testing precautions.
Mask Usage and Fauci’s Insights
While COVID-19 cases are rising, both the president and first lady have not been wearing masks in public recently. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently acknowledged that data on the effectiveness of masks in halting the virus’s spread are inconclusive, emphasizing that masks may offer individual protection but have uncertain effects on the overall pandemic