CDC Director Provides One-Minute Summary of New Mask Rules to Sen. Kennedy

By Craig Bannister | May 19, 2021 | 2:13pm EDT
CDC Dir. Rochelle Walensky

At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky provided a “one minute” summary of the new rules regarding mask-wearing.

When Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked Walensky to “in one minute, summarize for me what the recommendations are today from your agency about wearing masks,” the CDC director obliged:

“Last Thursday, we released guidance that demonstrated that, for an individual who is fully vaccinated and not immuno-comprised, that they are able to safely unmasked, with certain exceptions, of course, travel corridors, health care settings, that, if you’re an individual, you can safely unmask, if you’re fully vaccinated.”

“Inside and outside?” Sen. Kennedy asked.

“Inside and outside,” Walensky confirmed.

Alluding to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) mandate that all congressmen continue to wear masks on the House floor, Sen. Kennedy asked if the CDC thinks he has to wear a mask when he goes over there to speak with colleagues.

The CDC director didn’t answer the question, but deferred to the wisdom of “locally driven” policies:

Sen. Kennedy: “If I walk over to the House of Representatives, do I have to wear a mask?"

Walensky: “Those are locally-driven policies. But, we felt it was important for the science, for us to convey the science for what is safe for individuals.”

Sen. Kennedy: “Well, I’m trying to understand the CDC recommendations, and I appreciate it. Based on CDC recommendations, if I walk over to the House, are you recommending I wear a mask?”

Walensky: “If you are by yourself, walking over to the House, and you are fully vaccinated…”

Sen. Kennedy: “No, mam, once I’m over there – I’m vaccinated – once I’m over there and I’m talking to some of my colleagues.”

Walensky: “We have really encouraged that the policies of mask-wearing be locally driven and the reason for that is because every community, every county, has different rates of disease and different rates of vaccination, and that’s really important.”

“What’s different about the House? Do you know?” Sen. Kennedy asked.

“I don’t know the rate of vaccination around the Capitol nor the rate of disease around the Capitol, off the top of my head,” Walensky replied.

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