As he promised on the campaign trail, President Joe Biden began his term with an executive order mandating that face masks be worn on federal property nationwide.
Shortly thereafter, Biden himself was caught in apparent violation of the mandate — and he wasn’t the only one. Top aides including White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki have also been seen without face coverings in recent days, raising questions and criticisms about the Democrat administration’s handling of the pandemic.
“Public health measures”
According to Breitbart, Biden’s special climate envoy John Kerry was also seen on federal property without his face covered.
For her part, Psaki appeared in front of a room full of reporters without a face mask. Moments later, Kerry, who had been wearing a mandated mask, removed it when he walked up to the shared podium and began to deliver his remarks.
Also present at the briefing was national climate adviser Gina McCarthy, but she reportedly abided by the order and kept her mask on even while speaking to the crowd of journalists.
Of course, the disparity in compliance between the various members of Biden’s administration has led to concerns of mixed messages being delivered to the public. The Jan. 20 executive action requires everyone to mask up in certain situations.
According to Biden’s order, “individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures” in accordance with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Bigger issues to worry about”
Its language, however, does allow for the heads of specific agencies to “make categorical or case-by-case exceptions” to the mandate, provided that such alterations are “documented in writing” and that “appropriate alternative safeguards” were put in place.
As for Psaki and Kerry, it is unclear whether they were granted an exception in writing.
In any case, Biden made headlines just hours after signing the order when he appeared alongside members of his family at an event near the Lincoln Memorial. He and several others in the group appeared maskless, prompting questions from one reporter at the next day’s White House press briefing.
Psaki dutifully skirted the issue, suggesting that Biden was “celebrating” his recent inauguration with his family, arguing that there were “bigger issues to worry about.”
The press secretary’s latest press briefing appearance sans face mask was not an isolated incident. Along with other prominent administration members like Susan Rice and Anthony Fauci, Psaki has previously appeared in the White House briefing room without her face covered.