Vice President Kamala Harris shared a smooch with second husband Doug Emhoff while both were masked on Wednesday, before she hopped aboard Air Force Two and he departed to catch a separate flight, though both are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Harris was headed to Rhode Island, where she later dropped by a local store and purchased four books, including one discussing ‘white male rage,’ the Daily Mail reported. Emhoff, meanwhile, traveled to visit a microbrewery in Pennsylvania.
But the shared kiss drew outsized attention given that the second couple is vaccinated and, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, vaccinated people need not mask up while outdoors.
“The move is yet another confusing display on what the White House is recommending vaccinated Americans do in reference to wearing face coverings in public,” the Daily Mail noted.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 5, 2021
Social media users noted the oddity, with many questioning the necessity of the second couplie leaving their masks in place when they should be virtually risk-free of spreading the coronavirus.
“She just kissed her husband (two fully vaccinated people) with each having a mask on. Ummm… CDC policy on kissing a spouse??” one wrote.
She just kissed her husband (two fully vaccinated people) with each having a mask on. Ummm… CDC policy on kissing a spouse??
— Christine Breasbois (@ChristineBreas1) May 5, 2021
“Did she seriously kiss her husband with their masks on?” another user asked.
Did she seriously kiss her husband with their masks on?
— Nicole Dempsey (@Nikkid91275) May 5, 2021
“There is no evidence to warrant wearing one outside its bonkers,” said another.
There is no evidence to warrant wearing one outside its bonkers
— Fun Rulers (@FunRulers) May 5, 2021
The CDC advises that fully vaccinated people “can gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues.”
“It’s the return of freedom,” Dr. Mike Saag, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alabama told PBS in late April after the CDC issued its new guidance. “It’s the return of us being able to do normal activities again. We’re not there yet, but we’re on the exit ramp. And that’s a beautiful thing.”
The CDC guidance also now states that, fully vaccinated or not, people don’t have to mask up while outdoors when engaging in any activity with members of their own household. The health agency also says they can be maskless outdoors in small gatherings with fully vaccinated people.
Still, the agency recommends that even vaccinated people should continue to wear masks at crowded outdoor venues, even though disease experts say the risk of catching COVID-19 outdoors is greatly reduced.
“In the vast majority of outdoor scenarios, transmission risk is low,” Dr. Babak Javid, a physician-scientist at the University of California-San Francisco, told PBS.
“The key thing is to make sure people wear masks indoors,” he continued, adding: “I’m looking forward to mask-free existence.”
In recent days, the country’s top immunologist and chief medical adviser to the Biden administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci, created new confusion when he said children — who, multiple studies have shown are not susceptible to catching the virus or spreading it — should remain masked even while outdoors.
“Children of any age will likely be vaccinated by the time we get to the end of the year, but let’s not talk about the end of the year. Let’s talk about the immediate or intermediate future, when children are out in the community, when you have 30/40/50,000 new infections per day,” he told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie last week.
“They are unvaccinated now because children can’t get vaccinated now, and for that reason they are more at risk of getting infected because they are out in the community where there is a lot of infection. When the community level starts to go way down, the risks to everybody, including the children, is going to be dramatically diminished,” he added.
Just days earlier, Fauci told CNN that “the risk” for unvaccinated Americans to catch COVID-19 when outdoors is “extremely low.”
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