Some GOP lawmakers actually claimed easing safety guidelines is just a scheme by President Joe Biden to district from the pipeline shutdown and Middle East violence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that it was easing some COVID-19 safety rules for fully vaccinated people. But Republican opponents of those rules are still not happy.
With about 60% of American adults at least partially vaccinated against the coronavirus and new cases declining, the agency said that fully vaccinated people need not wear masks outdoors or in nearly all indoor settings.
"I think it's a great milestone, a great day," President Joe Biden said after the revised guidance was issued. "If you're fully vaccinated and can take your mask off, you've earned the right to do something that Americans are known for all around the world: greeting others with a smile."
He told the American public it now has the choice to either "get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do."
Already, several businesses — including Costco, CVS, Starbucks, Target, and Walmart — have adjusted their own mask requirements to follow the newly eased safety guidelines.
Some used the new guidance as an opportunity to liken Biden to a despot somehow forcing people to get inoculated.
"Our freedom is a gift from God, not Joe Biden," tweeted Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma on Friday.
"A President who believes he can make 'rules' is a dangerous thing," said Utah Rep. Burgess Owens.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia sarcastically called it "the good news that Dictator Biden said we don't have [sic] wear masks!"
"Despite what the 'experts' in the Biden Administration will have you think, this is still a FREE COUNTRY!" said Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson. "We’re not wearing masks forever!"
"Spoiler alert: You don't have this kind of power, Mr. President," said Alabama Rep. Barry Moore. "The choice to get vaccinated lies with the American people - not the government."
Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert even falsely called it a "roundabout way to get everyone showing proof of vaccination" through "vaccine passports." The CDC guidelines do not establish any requirement for proof of vaccination, and the White House has expressly stated that it will not issue a federal mandate to require verification and that it's a matter for the "private sector."
She and some other Republicans baselessly claimed it was all a "Wag the Dog"-like scheme by Biden's administration to change the subject from other problems — even though the CDC did not even inform him of the change until just hours before announcing it.
Boebert posted a Twitter poll asking her supporters why Biden was "lifting the mask mandate right now." The only four options available were to "distract from pipeline," "distract from Middle East," "distract from border," and "distract from inflation."
"Biden only chose to lift the mask mandate to distract from the consequences of his catastrophic policy decisions that are being seen around the world," alleged Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs.
"Lines to get gas, Bad jobs report, Israel under attack," wrote Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan. "And suddenly, President Biden says he might let you take your mask off. How convenient."
Other Republicans used the new guidance to whine that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is requiring mask usage on the House floor — where less than half of GOP members say they have been vaccinated.
"I will not play Speaker Pelosi’s STUPID games," vowed Florida Rep. Brian Mast. "Her mask mandate is not about science. It's all about power."
"Was advised I’d received my first warning for 'following the science' by taking my mask off to go on @SpeakerPelosi’s floor," grumbled Texas Rep. Beth Van Duyne. "It was never about science."
"CDC guidelines have lifted most mask mandates, yet Speaker Pelosi is unwilling to follow the science and remains power hungry," wrote Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale.
"You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses," the guidance for fully vaccinated Americans notes. "You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations."
Some public health experts are still urging mask use at places like grocery stores, until the percentage of fully vaccinated Americans rises a bit more.
"Here’s my personal practice for now: Continue indoor masking in public places like grocery stores until more are vaccinated, infection numbers are down," said Brown University School of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha. "Gather with small groups of fully vaccinated folks indoors, no mask. Because data clear that's pretty safe."
"Add me to this list as well," agreed Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, epidemiology and biostatistics department chair at University of California, San Francisco. "Wearing my mask indoors just awhile longer until the rates are higher."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.