Democratic leaders around the country are facing criticism and blowback after they rushed to reimpose unpopular mask mandates following updated coronavirus guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said this week that even vaccinated individuals in areas deemed as high-risk should return to wearing masks indoors – prompting the new wave in face-covering requirements.
But the mandates are unpopular for numerous reasons. Some say the masks irritate them or hinder their breathing. People who wear glasses have to deal with fogged-up lenses that make it nearly impossible to see when they enter a building. And many critics have argued that requiring face coverings is government overreach.
The pushback has been especially pronounced among House Republicans, who have criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s rush to embrace mandates once again.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has argued that the government has no authority over such edicts.
“If we cave on our freedoms in the halls of Congress, what hope do the people have across America?” she told Fox News Thursday night.
She was part of a large group of GOP lawmakers who protested Pelosi’s reinstated mask mandate this week by walking over to the Senate side of the Capitol, where there is no renewed requirement.
“I will not comply with Pelosi’s anti-science mask mandates,” she said. “She can kiss my mask.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., called the renewed mask mandates a “socialist takeover of America” led by Pelosi and President Biden.
“The Democrats are back at it again – whatever it takes to put you back into lockdown,” she said in a video shared to Twitter. “Now we hear that Speaker Pelosi is going to have people arrested if they do not wear a mask. I don’t know about you, I’ve not heard one valid reason that a person who has been vaccinated should be forced to wear a mask.”
And Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is suing Pelosi over the mandate, raising constitutional challenges to her authority, he told Fox News’ Bill hemmer Thursday.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., mocked Pelosi with a Twitter video Thursday afternoon, where he had to put a mask on to cross the “DMZ (Deplorable Mask Zone)” dividing the Senate portion of the Capitol from “the Socialist controlled House side.”
Former Rep. Vernon Jones, an ex-Democrat who is now a Republican seeking to unseat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the GOP primary, blasted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for her embrace of a renewed mask mandate.
“Keisha Lance Bottoms will let thugs burn down Atlanta, gun each other down in the street, and refuse to do a damn thing,” he Tweeted Wednesday. “But when the CDC says jump, she says how high and rushes to impose a mask mandate. NO.”
The CDC did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment on its justification for the new guidance. But that hasn’t stopped Democratic leaders from taking it to heart and aiming to impose the suggestion as a regulation once again.
The Biden administration said earlier this week it comes from concerns over so-called breakthrough infections – rare instances in which vaccinated individuals still get sick from the coronavirus.
The rate of breakthrough cases is estimated at around 5% for the original COVID-19 strain and roughly 14% for the more contagious delta variant for people who received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna injections. The rates are significantly higher for people who took the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
While vaccinated patients who fall victim to breakthrough cases are far less likely to develop serious symptoms, they can pass the virus on to others, the CDC says.
“Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the delta variant,” according to the CDC. “However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the delta variant can spread the virus to others.”
Hence the updated guidance to recommend masks indoors once again, even for fully vaccinated people.
However, the CDC does not have the authority to impose mask mandates – that’s up to state and local governments.
And they’ve been doing it in Democrat-controlled states and cities around the country: including in Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Mo., Nevada, Los Angeles, and the House portion of the U.S. Capitol.
In some places, like Broward County, Florida, and St. Louis, Mo., local officials are even challenging Republican governors like Ron DeSantis and Mike Parson who oppose mask mandates.