White House, Nevada Governor Order Return of Face Masks

Ralph Ellis

July 28, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Because of new guidance from the CDC, mandatory face mask policies are returning to the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives, while senators are urged, but not required, to wear masks.

Meanwhile, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed an executive order that takes effect Friday requiring people to wear masks in public indoor settings in places where COVID-19 is surging, including the state’s largest cities, The Associated Press reported.

In Congress, vaccinated and unvaccinated people in the House should wear "a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask (for example an ear loop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space," Brian P. Monahan, MD, Congress's attending doctor, said in a memo, according to The New York Times.

The Senate is a smaller body, and most members wore masks voluntarily during much of the pandemic.

The White House sent a memo to staff members saying that masks will be required regardless of vaccination status at "all times when on campus," the Times said. White House staffers can remove masks when alone in a closed office and when eating or drinking and maintaining 8-10 feet of distance.

The White House Correspondents Association followed suit and said on Twitter that all its members would be required to wear masks at the White House, "at least until the 7-day rolling average gets back down below 50 cases per 100,000 ppl."

Because of the rapid spread of the Delta variant, the CDC recommended Tuesday that all people ― including those who are fully vaccinated ― wear masks in public and indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the variant in areas with substantial or high transmission.

The guidance was a switch from CDC guidance in May that said fully vaccinated people don’t need masks in most situations, indoors and out.

The House mask rule was put back in place after being dropped 6 weeks ago. The change drew immediate criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

"Make no mistake ― The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state," he tweeted.

House members who violate the rule can be fined. In May, Republican Reps. Thomas Massie, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Ralph Norman were fined $500 each for refusing to wear masks, NPR said. They lost their appeals to the House Ethics Committee.

Sources

The New York Times: "The U.S. House of Representatives will once again require masks in the chamber," "White House staff are told to wear masks again, as cases rise in Washington."

Twitter: @GOPLeader, July 27, 2021.

NPR: "Masks Will Return to the U.S. House and White House After the CDC Changes Guidance."

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