White House press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed about why Americans had to wait so long to be told it is safe for vaccinated people to be unmasked outdoors.
“Why have Americans had to wait this long for today’s guidance when to many it was quite obvous that this was what the next step was?” a reporter asked Psaki during Tuesday’s press briefing.
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Psaki partially blamed “misinformation” about coronavirus from the Trump administration.
“Well, I think we want Americans to be confident in the information they’re receiving from the federal government,” Psaki said.
“It’s been important to us to lead with health and medical experts to provide them the time they need to make these evaluations so that, when the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] comes out with guidance, the American people know they can trust it, and we are working to clean up from a great deal of misinformation, inaccurate information, that was put out by the last administration, some of it politically tinged.”
“Therefore, we’ve been really leaning into the timeline of the health and medical team and experts,” she added.
She also insisted Biden’s mask announcement on Tuesday was not connected to his milestone of 100 days in office that will be reached later this week.
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“I can assure you, the CDC makes decisions and does evaluations on their own time,” Psaki said.
President Biden on Tuesday reiterated the CDC updated guidance that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need masks while outdoors except in crowded settings.
The CDC had released the new guidance shortly before Biden was set to provide an update on the pandemic.
“Earlier today the CDC made an important announcement. Starting today, if you are fully vaccinated and outdoors, not in a big crowd, you can go without a mask,” the president said, noting that masks are still required in crowded spaces, such as a music concert, regardless if it is outdoors.
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But when it comes to gathering with a group of friends in the park or going for a picnic, “you can do this without a mask,” he said, noting that the federal health agency was able to change its guidance because the “odds of getting or giving the virus are very low out in open air.”
“If you are vaccinated you can do more things more safely indoors and outdoors,” the president continued. “For those who haven’t gotten it, this is another good reason to get vaccinated. It’s about saving your life [and the lives] of those around you; it’s about getting back to normal life.”
Fox News’ Alexandra Hein and Madeline Farber contributed to this report.