- Biden’s inauguration was quickly followed by a series of executive orders signed by the new president.
- The executive orders covered everything from racial equity to the coronavirus pandemic.
- President Biden signed an executive order requiring face masks to be worn on federal property, then quickly attracted criticism for being seen without one during remarks he made at the Lincoln Memorial.
Biden’s inauguration week was characterized by a flurry of executive orders, as the nation’s new chief executive gets settled into the White House and begins working to get a handle on all aspects of the sprawling federal government. Those orders have touched on everything from stimulus checks to immigration, climate change, and, the coronavirus pandemic. President Biden, in fact, wasted no time in signing an executive order mandating that face masks be worn in certain places, including federal buildings and property, on his first day on the job.
And then he promptly appeared to flout his own order a few hours later.
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Wednesday night, a panoply of A-list celebrities and musicians feted the new president with a televised series of concert performances and virtual festivities from around the country, in lieu of the inaugural balls and parties which couldn’t be held this year because of COVID-19. At one point during the Wednesday night “Celebrating America” event that was emceed by Tom Hanks, Biden was shown delivering some remarks to the nation from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
And he wasn’t wearing a face mask, conservative critics and right-wing news sites howled, in spite of the executive order he’d signed earlier in the day. Fox News, for example, ran a story headlined: “Biden spotted maskless on federal property hours after signing mandate.”
Of course, this all starts to make sense, especially when you couple this criticism with the fact that one Republican congresswoman actually filed legislation to impeach President Biden on his first day in office. In other words, there is a degree of Republican opposition to Biden that is constant and won’t diminish for the duration of his first term — never mind the facts.
Biden’s face mask order is a good example of this.
So much of the political discourse today is built on appearances. Grasping at something which on the surface seems to confirm a political narrative. Here’s what President Biden tweeted Wednesday night about his face mask order: “Wearing masks isn’t a partisan issue – it’s a patriotic act that can save countless lives. That’s why I signed an executive order today issuing a mask mandate on federal property. It’s time to mask up, America.”
What does President Biden’s face mask order actually say?
Here’s a link to it on the White House website. Look at “Section 1. Policy,” which explains that the purpose of the order is to try and curb the spread of COVID-19 “by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures.” Such measures, the order continues, include “wearing masks when around others.”
Did you see anyone standing within 6 feet of the president as he delivered those remarks at the Lincoln Memorial? No, you did not. But since this news suggests some people need a reminder, we’ll go ahead and helpfully offer this piece of COVID advice — if you’re alone, you cannot contract COVID-19 from yourself.
Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.
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