Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared Saturday that she will continue to mask up though she has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in defiance of recommendations issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Thursday, CDC chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the newly updated guidance, in which she noted that according to the most up-to-date research and data, fully vaccinated Americans could safely shun masks and social distancing indoors or outdoors.
“We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Walensky said at a White House briefing.
In fact, last week’s guidance follows a March announcement from Walensky in which she said fully vaccinated persons could once again gather indoors with other vaccinated people, without the use of masks or social distancing.
But many on the left, including Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), say they will continue to mask up despite what the CDC says, after following the agency’s COVID health guidelines for more than a year.
In a post to her Instagram account, “AOC,” as she is known, told her millions of followers she will still mask up in “shared indoor public spaces” even though she’s gotten the vaccine.
“NYC got hit so hard that I think some of us are going to take time adjusting as we feel comfortable,” she said. “Personally I’m going to keep wearing my mask in shared indoor public spaces like elevators, subway, grocery store, etc.”
She then told her followers “if you want to keep wearing your mask then do it.”
The Bronx Democrat went on to say she will consider wearing a mask going forward anytime she feels under the weather. “Mask wearing is also something I’ll probably continue doing overall from time to time if I feel like I might be coming down with something and don’t want to spread it,” she said.
She went on to joke that a mask “is a nice accessory when you don’t want to do your makeup.”
New York’s embattled Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, is also suddenly shunning the CDC’s guidance as well, as he has refused to lift his state’s mask mandate, though several Republican-led states lifted theirs months ago.
Others on the left have also pushed back on the CDC’s new guidance, including some who have expressed confidence in the vaccines that were developed during the Trump administration.
“The CDC has done an about-face that’s shockingly abrupt: it’s confusing & could actually disincentivize vaccines,” wrote Dr. Leana Wen, a George Washington University public health professor, on Twitter following Walensky’s announcement.
For months, I've been criticizing the CDC for being too cautious with what vaccinated people can do.
Now, the CDC has done an about-face that's shockingly abrupt: it's confusing & could actually disincentivize vaccines.
We need an intermediate step: 🧵https://t.co/jlOiY0TBS2
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) May 14, 2021
“Yes, vaccinated people are well-protected and not a threat to others,” she noted in a subsequent tweet. “But do we trust that the honor system—won’t unvaccinated people pretend to be vaccinated & stop wearing masks?”
I’m still stunned at the CDC decision. Yes, vaccinated people are well-protected and not a threat to others. But do we trust that the honor system—won’t unvaccinated people pretend to be vaccinated & stop wearing masks? What about our obligation to kids & the immunocompromised? pic.twitter.com/Iq2TUW2VKn
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) May 14, 2021
“This is too risky in my opinion,” added Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and Federation of American Scientists senior fellow. “Asymptomatic transmission efficacy is only in the 70s-80s even for the best vaccines. Much lower for others and for some variants.”
2) This is too risky in my opinion. asymptomatic transmission efficacy is only in the 70s-80s even for the best vaccines. Much lower for others and for some variants. https://t.co/DnQPASecqj
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) May 13, 2021
“Today’s CDC guidance is confusing and fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks,” United Food and Commercial Workers President Marc Perrone said in a statement on behalf of the union’s 1.3 million members.
“Millions of Americans are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated, but essential workers are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local COVID safety measures,” he added. “Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?”
Critics of the continued use of a mask by vaccinated persons say it serves as a disincentive for non-vaccinated people to get the shot.
In a segment last month, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson asked point-blank if vaccines are as effective as the CDC says they are, why it still necessary to mask up.
“We know the vaccine works. We know that anyone who wants a vaccine in this country can get one. They’ve told us those two things again and again, and most of us are willing to believe that they’re true. But if they are true, then why wear masks?” he said.
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