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Why Is Joe Biden Wearing Masks on Zoom Calls and at Meals?

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Masks have become cultural and tribal totems for many Americans, sometimes to the point of absurdity on both ends of the spectrum. I understand, to some extent, the logic behind high-profile vaccinated people continuing to model mask-wearing in public as a continued precaution for non-vaccinated people – even though immunized people are immune and overwhelmingly safe from contracting or transmitting the virus. There's also an argument that it is simply courteous to others, who don't know your vaccine status, to mask up in public. But Phil Klein asks a fair question about the balance of the calculus: 


A follow-up question: Just as Klein suggests that ostensible courteousness actually becomes discourteous for many along the way, at what point does "setting a good example" become setting a bad example? I think we're already there in many ways. For instance, here is the president of the United States on a Zoom call with other world leaders, sitting by himself, while fully vaccinated, wearing a mask (and quite possibly two, since he often double masks). No one else on the call appeared to be masked: 

Then there's this image released by the White House last week: 

Biden was hosting the Japanese prime minister. Both vaccinated, they sat as far away from each other as possible and wore masks while they were seated for a meal. Millions of Americans have dined at restaurants during the pandemic, including prior to vaccine availability, and they all recall removing their masks at the table. I tend to agree with this warning about the optics involved: 


Same deal with this spacing

When COVID theater is so obviously irrational and performative, what is the point? These officials may tell themselves they're helping, but I think this is ridiculous to the point of being counter-productive. Confidence in the vaccines means acting like the vaccines warrant confidence, which they absolutely do – including the finally un-paused Johnson & Johnson shots. That pause, by the way, was over...this: 

I'll leave you with some more good news about vaccines and COVID, followed by a question that answers itself:


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