“No, I didn’t say that,” Biden stated, noting he was referring to people who were completely vaccinated outside of government-designated COVID-19 hot spots.
Biden was also pressed on his less equivocal remarks regarding protective face coverings in May.
"That was true at the time ... What happened was the new variant came along,” he answered. “They didn't get vaccinated ... More people were getting sick."
The questions came after Biden finished comments stating a new initiative to increase vaccinations among the federal workforce, mandating the shot for most government employees.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its mask-wearing direction earlier this week to react to the emerging delta variant and plateauing vaccination rates. Masks are now recommended for the fully vaccinated in some situations.
Congressional Republicans have urged the CDC to justify the science behind its choice, which critics say could magnify vaccine hesitancy if people do not believe the shots will restore their pre-pandemic lives.
CDC's move to bring the masks back has important implications for retailers and other businesses. Some restaurants, for instance, are already telling customers, as the delta variant spreads, “No vax, no service.”
Over 2,000 U.S. counties, or 63% of all counties, are undergoing substantial or high transmission, according to a county-level CDC tracker of cases. “Many more infections that are occurring now in the United States are a result of unvaccinated people compared to vaccinated people,” Walensky told SiriusXM on Wednesday.
The reversal moreover means that the pandemic is far from finished, even as many Americans go shopping again, travel, attend concerts and sporting events and go to bars and nightclubs, activities once deemed too unsafe. Airlines need masks to be worn, though other establishments have a mixed bag of mask policies.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Apple AAPL, +0.46% intends to ask both employees and staff to wear masks from July 29 at over half of its 270 U.S. retail stores, citing the following company memo:
After carefully reviewing the latest CDC recommendations, and analyzing the health and safety data for your local area, we are updating our guidance on face masks for your store.” (Apple did not respond to a request for comment.)
Wearing masks indoors at retailers, gyms and other outlets would not only protect other customers, it would protect employees, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers labor union, which represents 1.3 million food and retail workers, including pharmacy technicians and grocery-store employees.