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The Biden administration’s constantly changing messaging surrounding the coronavirus, particularly the coronavirus vaccine, has some Americans feeling whiplash.
During a White House briefing Thursday, President Joe Biden suggested that his administration is looking into whether a federal vaccine mandate would be legal.
“It’s still a question whether the federal government can mandate the whole country. I don’t know that yet,” he said.
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) July 29, 2021
Questioned about these remarks the following afternoon, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed the idea of the administration ever implementing a federal vaccine mandate.
“A national vaccine requirement is not under consideration at this time. That’s where we are with that,” she said.
But during an appearance on Fox News’ “Special Report” several hours later, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky explicitly said that the administration is, in fact, “looking into” a vaccine mandate.
“Are you for mandating a vaccine on a federal level?” host Bret Baier asked.
“That’s something that I think the administration is looking into. It’s something that I think we are looking to see approval of from the vaccine. Overall, I think in general, I am all for more vaccination. But I have nothing further to say on that except that we are looking into those policies,” the CDC director replied.
She added that, for the time being, any vaccine mandates currently in place have been instituted by either local leaders or business owners.
Listen, and take note of the timestamp:
(Video: Fox News)
The meaning of her remarks seemed clear to the public: The administration was considering directly involving itself in the matter by “mandating a vaccine on a federal level.”
Yet exactly an hour after she made the remarks, Walensky performed a full 180, writing in a tweet to a CNBC reporter who’d reported her original remarks that she hadn’t meant what she’d originally said.
“To clarify: There will be no nationwide mandate. I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. There will be no federal mandate,” Walensky wrote.
.@BerkeleyJr To clarify: There will be no nationwide mandate. I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. There will be no federal mandate.
— Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH (@CDCDirector) July 30, 2021
The backtrack, one of several within a span of 24 hours, drew massive criticism. The administration was breeding confusion, critics argued, as well as essentially spreading misinformation — something the administration purports to oppose.
Even fans of the administration complained, with one writing that they’d hoped “the CDC would get its act together under a Biden administration, but it clearly has not.”
Look (*Language warning):
In the span of just a few hours the Biden admin clearly contradicted itself on whether it’s considering vaccine mandates.
This has been going on all week on a variety of issues related to the pandemic/vaccines.
This is the same admin pushing censorship over misinformation. pic.twitter.com/BtfW7QAowk
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 31, 2021
How on earth do you keep screwing up so badly? I had high hopes the CDC would get its act together under a Biden administration, but it clearly has not.
— Dan Hocson (@dochocson) July 30, 2021
I’m so confused and regardless of what you keep going forward or back on…I’m fully vaxed and wearing a mask..get these stories straight…I know Covid/delta is new day by day but clear communication is imperative!
— Imperfectly_perfect aka Aunt Tifa (@Leslie_961957) July 31, 2021
Please hire a communications expert or use a professional spokesperson. Can’t afford any more “clarifications” from the CDC.
— Terry Adkins (@dadkins7011) July 30, 2021
To clarify, the clarified clarification, of the previous clarified clarification of mass confusion about exactly what we would like to recommend.
— Saltwater Assassin (@Mrning_Glory) July 31, 2021
what the fuck is wrong with you
— Amy Hoy (@amyhoy) July 31, 2021
This same lack of clarity has been seen in regard to the prospect of lockdowns.
During Thursday’s briefing, Jean-Pierre admitted to Fox News’ Peter Doocy that if the CDC recommends more lockdowns and school closures, the administration will comply.
Hours later that same evening, she walked back the statement:
To be clear, here is what @potus said this week: “more vaccinations and mask wearing in the areas most impacted by the Delta variant will enable us to avoid the kind of lockdowns, shutdowns, school closures, and disruptions we faced in 2020….We are not going back to that.” https://t.co/miY8qm3czL
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@KJP46) July 29, 2021
We will not be going back into lockdowns. Why? Because we now have the tools to put this virus behind us. The science says the vaccines work – including against the Delta variant. We urge Americans to get vaccinated.
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@KJP46) July 29, 2021
However, the following day, the president explicitly told members of the press that more COVID restrictions, presumably including lockdowns, are possible “in all probability.”
President Biden is leaving the White House for Camp David and says in response to a question from @weijia about whether Americans should expect more Covid restrictions: “In all probability.” pic.twitter.com/ciBAI2u8DG
— Jenny Leonard (@jendeben) July 30, 2021
So which is it? Nobody — not even the Biden administration itself — seems to really know …
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