Tucker Carlson has mocked Joe Biden for wearing a face mask on a Zoom call with other world leaders, joking that the U.S. president was concerned about catching ‘digital COVID’.
Carlson further noted that Biden, earlier on Tuesday, had announced that fully-vaccinated Americans like him could remove their face masks outdoors, in uncrowded spaces.
But the president – who has had both doses of his Pfizer COVID vaccine, then walked out alone from the White House wearing his face mask.
Carlson said that the White House had a ‘mask fetish’, and ridiculed Biden for what his supporters see as his commitment to public health.
‘The meeting itself turned out to be only marginally interesting,’ said Carlson, of Friday’s climate change summit.
Joe Biden (top right) was one of the only world leaders to be wearing a face mask on Zoom
Biden is pictured on Friday, at the virtual climate change summit he convened
The White House on Friday said that Biden was surrounded by other people on Friday’s Zoom
‘What got your attention was Joe Biden. Of the 16 heads of state who were present, only Joe Biden wore a face mask. He sat there silently, nose and mouth covered in black cloth like a wrestler from an old western as Vladimir Putin held forth on international affairs – but here’s the weirdest part: that meeting took place over Zoom.’
Other world leaders were at times wearing face masks, with Italy’s representative in a mask on camera.
Yet Carlson said that the United States was blindly accepting the recommendations, without questioning their rationale.
‘All precautions against COVID are considered legitimate by the American news media, no matter how self-evidently lunatic they may be,’ he said.
‘Covering your face during a Zoom call, drive to work alone with a mask on, it’s all normal, says The New York Times.’
Jen Psaki, the White House spokeswoman, said that Biden was wearing a face mask both ‘to send a message’, and also because there were other people in the room so that was their protocol.
Yet Carlson did not accept her explanation, and further ridiculed the 78-year-old, who was elected on a promise to get the pandemic under control.
Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night laughed at Joe Biden’s strict adherence to COVID protocols
Biden on Tuesday walked out of the White House, alone, still wearing his face mask out of habit
The 78-year-old took his mask off to say masks were not necessary outdoors with small groups
Thirty two million Americans have been infected by the virus – almost double the second hardest-hit country, India – and the country has the world’s worst death toll, with 573,000 having died.
‘The message is that Joe Biden is putting in place precautions, those would be sensible precautions, precautions against Zoom because it turns out COVID is digitally transmissible,’ joked Carlson.
‘It travels through the fibers, the virus embeds itself among the one and zero and springs unsuspected, teeth bared and ready to strike, from any available hot spot – whether it’s at Starbucks, down in your basement rec room, even the Oval Office.
‘Digital COVID could be anywhere – where there’s an internet connection, there’s a pandemic.’
Biden was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before he took the oath of office on Inauguration Day in January.
Psaki said the president will follow the new guidelines but conceded it will take some time to adapt the new habit.
‘He’ll be following public health guidelines so I think you saw him outside today – he took the mask off, he didn’t put the mask back on,’ she said at her press briefing.
‘It will take some time to adjust and adapt for all of us.’
The president spoke for a little than five minutes about the pandemic, where he encouraged people to get vaccinated as the inoculation rate in the United States has started to drop off. He pointed out getting vaccinated means getting back to normal life.
‘Vaccines are about saving your life, but also the lives of the people around you, but they’re also about helping to get us get back to closer to living our normal lives, getting together with friends, going through the park for a picnic without needing a basket or back to that place now as long as you get vaccinated,’ Biden said.
‘So go get the shot. It’s never been easier.’
He also pointed out the new CDC guidelines: ‘Starting today, if you’re fully vaccinated and you’re outdoors and not in a big crowd, you no longer need to wear a mask.’
After his remarks, he left the podium, set up next to the driveway outside the White House, with his face mask in hand.
It comes amid mounting evidence – finally acknowledged by the CDC on Tuesday – that outdoor transmission of coronavirus is exceedingly rare, accounting for less than 10 percent of cases. Those risks are mainly linked to crowded events that can turn into super-spreader events, or people who were in close range of one another.
U.S. health officials unveiled a list of outdoor activities that it now considers safe for fully vaccinated Americans to do without masks, including exercising, going to small gatherings and eating outside. However, vaccinated people should still wear masks in crowds
However, in crowded places like concerts, parades or sporting events, even vaccinated people should still wear masks, the CDC’s new guidance says.
The guidance is merely that – advice about what the health agency has deemed safe – and is not enforceable. It’s up to states, counties and cities to issue mask mandates and other restrictions.
Several states, including Massachusetts and Kentucky rolled back their guidelines on mask-wearing outdoors on Tuesday morning, in anticipation of the update to the guidelines.
Unvaccinated people can shed their masks too, if they are outside exercising or at small outdoor gatherings with vaccinated friends and families.