Infighting Consumes Biden Coronavirus Missteps: White House Blames Rochelle Walensky for Mask Mandate

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee July 20, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, …
J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

Senior officials for President Joe Biden’s administration blame Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky for demanding mask mandates, according to a report.

Walensky demanded last week that the Biden administration issue new mandates for fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors to help stop the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, according to “two senior officials familiar with the conversations” who spoke to Politico.

“Walensky insisted that doing nothing wasn’t an option,” Politico reported, noting both the CDC and the White House “privately expressed frustration with one another.”

Biden and his officials have repeatedly stated they will trust the science and federal health officials as their “North star,” but the report details some frustration with Walensky and the CDC.

The White House and the CDC also struggled with data surrounding the spread of the Delta variant, which culminated in angry reactions from White House staff against journalists and news outlets reporting on the CDC data.

“VACCINATED PEOPLE DO NOT TRANSMIT THE VIRUS AT THE SAME RATE AS UNVACCINATED PEOPLE AND IF YOU FAIL TO INCLUDE THAT CONTEXT YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG,” wrote Deputy Director of Strategic Communications & Engagement for Biden’s COVID-19 Response Team on social media in all-caps.

The White House even canceled last week’s coronavirus briefing for the press after the CDC announced the new mandates, suggesting they did not trust federal health officials messaging on the issue.

Instead, they refocused attention on Biden’s messaging on the issue to the public on Thursday.

“He gave a more than 30-minute speech about where we are as a country,” Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday. “I mean, he is a trusted voice; he’s the leader of our country.”


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