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The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and the government’s leading epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, are likely to wonder if the US should bring back health measures like mask mandates if the Delta-COVID variant spreads.
Walensky and Fauci – the chief medical advisor to President Biden – will appear before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).
The hearing is designed to take a look at “The Path Forward” out of the pandemic. However, concern over the Delta variant has led some in the US to call for the return of strict health measures from the height of the pandemic. And that conversation has resulted in opponents of such measures stepping back against steps they say would be counterproductive.
Los Angeles County on Friday ordered citizens to wear masks indoors whether or not they were vaccinated, making it the first major U.S. jurisdiction to reverse easing virus rules.
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And the very next day, former Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who served under former President Trump, said the CDC should revise its guidelines that people with vaccines should not need masks – which were introduced with much fanfare in May – to bring masking back for all.
“Rather than cheating OR masking it, the new data suggests the CDC should advise cheating AND masking it in areas [increasing] Cases and positivity – until we see the numbers go down again, “Adams said in a tweet.
“No. No. No. No. Hell NO,” replied Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Adams.
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Several governors have also been on record in the past few days rather than bringing back masked mandates, albeit more diplomatically than Cruz.
“For over a year and a half, the South Carolinians have heard of the virus, they know what to do to protect themselves from it, and the vaccine is available to anyone who wants it,” a spokesman for South carolina Governor Henry McMaster, a Republican, said WBTW.
“We use the tool of vaccination,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, according to MyNorthwest.com. “This is the ultimate answer to this pandemic. We don’t want to wear masks for the next 32 years – vaccines stop this thing. “
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Cruz may not be on the HELP committee. But Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., Who has a history of militant exchanges with Fauci, will be at the hearing on Tuesday. Paul tabled a bill last week to repeal federal mask mandates on public transportation, which may anticipate issues that will lead the president’s top health officials to withdraw such mandates themselves.
“The federal government forcing the American people to keep wearing masks even after we have already achieved herd immunity is ridiculous and must stop immediately,” Paul said in a statement. “In a free county, people will evaluate their personal risk factors and will be smart enough to ultimately make medical decisions like wearing a mask themselves.”
Paul was assisted in getting the bill through by several Senators, including Senator Roger Wicker, R-Kan., Who is also on the HELP Committee.
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Meanwhile, Democrats on the committee are likely to raise concerns about the spread of the Delta variant and the reluctance of many vaccines in the United States
“The Delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 is driving cases across the country,” committee chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., Tweeted on Monday. “It is so important that you and your loved ones get vaccinated to protect yourself and help save lives.”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.