Few things make me nostalgic for old-school blogging like dunking effortlessly on John Kerry. Via the Tennessee Star:
@TheTNStar Exclusive: Biden’s @ClimateEnvoy John Kerry, took off his mask as he settled into a book in his first-class seat just before takeoff today on an @AmericanAir flight Boston to DC. He was not eating, nor drinking. He was simply flaunting Biden’s mandatory mask policy. pic.twitter.com/t1wDq9OtxD
— ReporterMcCabe (@NeilWMcCabe2) March 17, 2021
From the CDC’s website: “People must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, traveling on, or disembarking public conveyances. People must also wear masks when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the United States.” Aircraft are included in the definition of “public conveyances,” of course. Eight days before the CDC issued that order, Joe Biden himself signed an executive order mandating masks on flights. “What a difference leadership makes! We welcome President Biden’s nationwide approach to crushing the virus and lifting us out of this pandemic,” said the head of the flight attendants’ union upon hearing the news.
Is there a special exception to the rules somewhere for well-heeled “climate envoys”?
Two points. First, obviously, we can’t know for how long Kerry had the mask off. You can see it in the photo dangling from his left ear, which suggests that he didn’t plan to have it off for the entire flight — although reporter Neil McCabe claims that he wasn’t eating or drinking so he didn’t have an obvious excuse to remove it at all.
Second, although Kerry broke the rules, should the rules prevent him from taking his mask off? Behold:
I’m beyond grateful to the scientists around the globe who developed COVID-19 vaccines and for the brave medical providers everywhere – and especially to those at @DeptVetAffairs in Bedford, MA – who have risked their own lives over the last year to help others. Thank you, all! pic.twitter.com/DIHLo7iCUQ
— Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry (@ClimateEnvoy) February 12, 2021
We’ve been knocking public-health authorities for weeks for being hard-asses about what vaccinated people should be allowed to do once they’ve gained immunity. Noah Rothman spotted this depressing sign in D.C. today:
A Washington DC public health campaign. Go get your shots, after which time you still won’t be able to do anything at all. pic.twitter.com/ENqQ5Yr56G
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) March 17, 2021
The early data tells us that vaccinated people are at very low risk of asymptomatic infection, which means they’re unlikely to infect someone else. And we know that planes are low-risk because the air in the cabin is replaced every few minutes. The odds of a maskless John “Waffles” Kerry giving anyone the ‘rona on today’s flight were tiny.
But rules are rules. And even if/when the CDC finally tweaks its guidance to encourage the vaccinated to fly again, it’s a cinch that they’ll also insist on wearing masks in order to minimize the risk of infections. I doubt that particular rule will be lifted in 2021, in fact, considering the likelihood of a COVID resurgence in this fall. For the rest of the year, if you want to fly, you’ll wear the mask. So why didn’t Kerry?