The best part of this fiasco is that technically she wasn’t breaking the rules. But under the circumstances, that may be worse than if she was.
On Thursday Muriel Bowser ordered a new indoor mask mandate for Washington, D.C., a dubious move given the low (but rising) case counts there. It was in keeping with the CDC’s guidance, though: Because D.C. had just begun to meet the statistical threshold for “substantial” transmission, Bowser brought down the hammer. The city would take no chances; in the interest of heading off a new wave of COVID fueled by the Delta variant, all Washingtonians would be asked to mask indoors.
Time was of the essence.
That was Thursday. Then, last night, she threw herself a big birthday bash. That’s her in the white dress:
— John J. Falcicchio (@falcicchio) July 31, 2021
Wasn’t that against the rules? Not exactly — because, you see, when Bowser announced the new mandate on Thursday, she said that it wouldn’t take effect until 5 a.m. this morning.
Which raises an obvious question:
— Bradley Engle (@BradEngle) July 31, 2021
(Click here for a larger version of the photo.) Did Bowser actually delay the mandate so that she could throw her party on Friday night without guests having to mask up? It made no sense on the scientific merits to postpone implementation for two days. If the point of mandating masks was to prevent a new wave before it built up momentum then why wait 48 hours for the mandate to take effect? It should have been implemented immediately.
Time was of the essence, no?
What was really of the essence was Bowser getting to party unencumbered by precautionary mandates, which is why I say this is arguably worse than if she had broken the rules. Anyone can make a thoughtless mistake, but writing the rules so that you get to have your fun before they kick in and cramp your style is premeditated scumbaggery.
Bowser’s going to say, I assume, that she wouldn’t have been breaking the rules even if the mandate was in effect because she and her guests weren’t “indoors” in the way that term is usually defined. As you can see in the second photo above, a huge sliding window had been opened to allow access to the patio beyond, providing lots of ventilation. Which is super, but riddle me this: Given how hyper-contagious Delta is, isn’t it logical that the risk of infection has risen even in well ventilated spaces — especially when you’re static, in a crowd of people, sharing the same air space?
Click here and you’ll find Bowser cheek-to-cheek with the party’s DJ at one point last night, both of them without masks. That’s probably not the only photo she took with one of her guests. Does she really think that a virus that’s as infectious as chicken pox couldn’t make the jump of a few inches from one person to another in any space, indoors or outdoors?
I’m excited to hear her explain today how D.C. has reached a frightening new stage of the pandemic but not so frightening that she couldn’t clink champagne glasses with Dave Chappelle and dozens of guests without precautions in the middle of it. Stay tuned.