Science officially changing: Federal agencies dropping mask mandates

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

So far, Reuters reports, the science has only officially changed at the Department of Justice and at the Pentagon. Expect it to change across the entire executive branch quickly, even if still behind Congress’ unmasking for the State of the Union speech — and of course, nearly every other state in the country except Hawaii. The White House quietly changed its directive late on Monday to remove mask mandates in low-hospitalization areas.


That, however, might shine an uncomfortable light on local Beltway officials:

The U.S. Defense and Justice departments are no longer requiring masks be worn indoors at Washington-area facilities, they said on Wednesday, following the latest COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other agencies are expected to follow suit this week.

The change affects about 20,000 military and civilian employees at the Pentagon.

The Justice Department said masks are no longer required at its operated buildings in Washington and will implement new workplace policies, “including a phased increase in onsite presence, over the next two months.” Facilities outside Washington must follow the CDC’s community level guidance, it added.

First off, let’s just point out how late the White House and CDC are on this issue. Red states stopped imposing mask mandates months ago, and in some cases even before vaccines became widely available. The Omicron wave proved mask mandates essentially useless; transmission levels spiked up roughly equivalently in states with and without them. It’s that data — and the rising anger from blue-state voters that hit critical mass in the New Jersey and Virginia elections — that finally convinced Democratic governors to rescind mask mandates several weeks earlier.


So what’s the catch now? The new White House guidance allows federal agencies to dump mask mandates based on community levels of hospital utilization, the CDC’s butt-covering guidance change last week. Apparently the White House is giving DC-based facilities a waiver from the community-level requirement, but it still leaves the DC school system in a place where they have to explain keeping their mask mandates on children with absurdly low levels of risk while some of their parents that work in federal agency building don’t have to mask at all. As Reuters points out, even without a waiver, DC facilities would still qualify — as DC’s community utilization level is rated as “low.”

And of course, that big office at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue just held a maskless septuagenarian party Tuesday night. Kinda tough to argue that kids have to wear masks in DC to protect their grandparents when you watch America’s gerontocracy on live TV spending over an hour in close proximity without masks while cheering and shouting a substance-free speech. All of this is silly hypocrisy, including and especially the DC public schools that will have to hit reverse sooner rather than later as the White House tries to sound its own belated retreat. Such are the conundrums that arise when the political science drives arbitrary policies in the absence of — or deliberate eschewing of — epidemiological data.


Not to mention that all of this leaves Democratic midterm incumbents in a hypocritical quandary, especially after Tuesday’s spectacle. How do you ditch your single most visible virtue signal while on the stump?

Democratic lawmakers are distancing themselves from the strong pro-mask stance they took for most of the pandemic, which is becoming more and more of a political liability at a time when many Americans are reaching their limits of COVID-19 fatigue.

Democrats are being battered by poll after poll showing that President Biden’s approval rating is hovering around 40 percent, and lawmakers say COVID-19 fatigue is a major factor behind why so many voters are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. …

Democrats won control of the White House and Senate in the 2020 elections after embracing masks and other COVID-19-prevention protocols as a sign they were taking the pandemic more seriously than former President Trump, who repeatedly refused to wear a mask in public.

But now there are myriad signs that Americans are growing sick of masks and other restrictions.

They’ve figured out the hypocrisy of that virtue-signaling, after two years of watching Democrats and culture leaders demand mask mandates for others while ignoring the requirement for themselves. Even before the State of the Union, the Super Bowl exposed the hypocrisy on a far larger stage. Now Democrats are stuck between pandering to the dwindling crowd of hysterics they have assiduously courted over the last two years and the normies that will actually decide elections in 2022.


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