Mask Mandates Are Back For Federal Workers
Just yesterday, we talked about the vaccine mandates being put into place by state, city and federal leaders to try and stop the spread of the Delta variant. However, with the Delta variant rampaging like it is, federal leaders felt that they had to do more than just impose these vaccination requirements. So what have they done beyond that?
On Tuesday, the White House Office of Management and Budget, (OMB), sent out instructions to federal agencies. These instructions told them that it was necessary to impose a mask mandate in federal buildings, and that is exactly what happened. After the instructions were issued, the mandates were put into place.
So what exactly does this mandate say? Well, to put it simply, it requires all employees and visitors to wear a mask while inside of a federal building, regardless of vaccination status. However, this is not for all federal buildings necessarily. This mandate only encompasses federal buildings located in areas that are considered substantial or high Covid-19 transmission communities. That being said, the percentage of U.S. counties that fall into these two categories is incredibly high. As of Wednesday that percentage sat at 67%. This mandate includes the Washington D.C. area as well.
Several other departments within the federal government have taken up vaccine and mask mandates as well. On Monday the Biden administration mandated that all employees for the Department of Veterans Affairs get vaccinated and also asked the Department of Defense to come up with an outline to get all of their employees vaccinated as well. Beyond that, the departments of defense, Homeland Security, energy and interior have all imposed their own mask mandates.
Beyond all of that, there was a mask mandate imposed in the House of Representatives, a move that has left Republican lawmakers outraged. The mandate was issued by Capitol Attending Physician Dr. Brian Monahan, and during a meeting with GOP Representatives afterword, he held strong to his statement that the decision wasn’t made under any pressure from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He went on to explain that if he had been pressured in any way, he would have been more than willing to stand up to whoever was pressuring him. His reasoning for putting the mandate in place was that there are lawmakers coming from all around the country, including from areas that are Covid-19 hotspots. That would put the Representatives at risk.
Republican lawmakers chose to defy the mandate, with about 25 representatives going out onto the House floor without their masks on Wednesday. GOP Representative Byron Donalds was seen without a mask by reporters, when when asked why he wasn’t wearing one he said, “This rule is stupid. Let’s just be very blunt about this. The Senate has no rules, so it’s funny how Covid operates differently here than in the Senate.”
It is true that at this time, masks are only recommended in the Senate. They are not required.
A yelling match took place between Donalds and Democratic lawmaker Jared Huffman outside the House chamber. Huffman called Donalds selfish for remaining unmasked, and Donalds told Huffman to just mind his own business. The tension even made its way to the top, with House Speaker Pelosi calling House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy a moron for not adhering to the mandate.
As long as cases remain high or increasing, the mandates are likely going to continue, if not increase in number and capacity. That means that this story is far from over. If you want all the latest updates and news about this story and others, then go give us a follow on our Twitter page. You will get all of the breaking headlines right as they come out.