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Snarky Biden snaps at reporter who asked about mask use: ‘I’m worried about you’

As his administration continues to be criticized for sending mixed messages to Americans on face mask use, President Biden snapped at a reporter Friday who asked why he wore one to a sparsely attended indoor event.

The reporter asked Biden why he chooses “to wear a mask so often when you’re vaccinated and you’re around other people who are vaccinated.”

“Because I’m worried about you,” Biden shot back in a serious tone.

After a dramatic pause, Biden quickly backtracked, insisting, “No, that’s a joke. It’s a joke.”

“Why am I wearing the mask? Because, when we’re inside, it’s still good policy to wear the mask. That’s why,” Biden continued.

“When I’m outside — and the problem is: Lots of times, I walk away from this podium, you notice, I forget to put my mask back on because I’m used to not wearing it outside.”

The remarks were in the cavernous White House East Room. Most, if not all, of Biden’s staff and most White House journalists are vaccinated. To access White House grounds, reporters also must test negative each morning.

Biden has struggled with messaging on masks after the CDC last week said that there’s no reason for vaccinated people to wear them outdoors.

Shortly after that announcement, the president stood masked on a largely empty outdoor rally stage near Atlanta as his wife introduced him. The first lady helped plant a tree on the White House lawn the next day while masked.

President Joe Biden
Biden has been criticized for mixed messaging on mask wearing.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Biden defended himself in an interview that aired last Friday on NBC News, saying that although it may seem he’s sending mixed messages, he’s actually being sensible because there’s a chance an infected person could approach him.

“The likelihood of my being able to be outside and people not come up to me is not very, very high,” Biden said.

Two-dose vaccines developed by Moderna and by Pfizer-BioNTech are about 95 percent effective, according to clinical trials. A one-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is 66 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe illness and 85 percent effective in preventing severe disease.

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