President Biden’s White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not wear a mask while fielding questions from reporters during Monday’s briefing despite the administration’s push for 100 days of masking and Biden’s executive order requiring masks on federal property with limited exceptions.
Psaki spoke from the podium without a mask on as she has done before in previous briefings. During Monday’s press briefing, Psaki briefly previewed the first of their forthcoming “science-led” public health briefings which will begin Wednesday. Psaki said they will “typically” occur three times a week and feature public health officials and members of the coronavirus response team:
White House Press Sec. Psaki says public health officials will hold briefings on the coronavirus pandemic 3 times a week beginning Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/w19HHmGhLG
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 25, 2021
Notably, Dr. Anthony Fauci did not wear a mask while speaking at a White House briefing last week, but told reporters at the time that Americans “absolutely should be wearing a mask.”
Biden signed an executive order last week requiring “heads of executive departments and agencies” to take immediate action and “require compliance with CDC guidelines with respect to wearing masks” and other mitigation measures on federal property.
While the order allows heads of agencies to make “categorical or case-by-case exceptions,” heads of agencies are required to document all exceptions in writing. Additionally, agency heads are expected to “require appropriate alternative safeguards, such as additional physical distancing measures, additional testing, or reconfiguration of workspace, consistent with applicable law” in all cases where exceptions are made. It remains unclear if Psaki has been formally granted an exception. The White House has yet to release documentation providing details.
Last week, the New York Times published an article supporting double-masking, or, quite literally, wearing two masks at the same time rather than one.
“Double-masking is a sensible and easy way to lower your risk, especially if circumstances require you to spend more time around others — like in a taxi, on a train or plane, or at an inauguration,” the piece read in part.
Fauci has also supported the idea of wearing two masks, telling TODAY, that it “just makes common sense” that two layers would be “more effective”:
“We don't want to get complacent.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 25, 2021
“That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95,” he explained.