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Biden White House goes mask free for first time: ‘Today is a great day for America’

·3-min read
<p>President Joe Biden speaks on updated guidance on face mask mandates and Covid-19 response, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, 13 May 2021, in Washington</p> (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden speaks on updated guidance on face mask mandates and Covid-19 response, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, 13 May 2021, in Washington

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Joe Biden said it was a “great day for America” as his White House went mask free for the first time after the announcement that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing them.

The president appeared in the White House rose garden with Vice President Kamala Harris hours after the change in guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, with both of them not wearing their masks.

“Today is a great day for America in our long battle with the coronavirus,” said Mr Biden

“A few hours ago the CDC announced they are no longer recommending that fully vaccinated people need wear masks. This recommendation holds true whether you are inside or outside, I think it is a great milestone, a great day.”

Mr Biden touted the 250m shots his administration had overseen in just 114 days, and said that hospitalisations were now as low as they had been since April 2020.

The president noted that the virus was “tragically raging” in other countries that remained “mired in the challenges of slow vaccine rollout and poor economic conditions”.

And he claimed that the US economy had “gone from stagnation” to the fastest it has grown in 40 years because of the country’s “historic” vaccination programme.

“Some people said we couldn’t do this, that it wouldn’t be to the fall until we had this many people vaccinated, that 2021 might be a lost year for our country as 2020 was, but we proved the doubters wrong,” he said.

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He went on to praise the American people for a year in which they “had endured so much” and missed so many moments with family and friends, and who had dealt with more than 580,000 Covid-19 deaths.

“You have endured all of this, when your country asked you to get vaccinated you did, the American people stepped up and did what I consider to be your patriotic duty,” he said.

“As president I am pleased, but not surprised. The American people have never, ever, ever let their country down. Never.”

He also encouraged Americans to be kind to anyone who still wanted to wear their masks, despite the CDC guidelines.

“Be patient with one another. Some may say ‘I feel more comfortable continuing to wear a mask’. So, if you see someone with a mask, please treat them with kindness and respect,” he added.

“We have had too much conflict and too much bitterness, too much anger and too much politicisation of this issue about wearing masks. Let’s put it to rest and remember that we are all Americans.”

The president also said Americans who had been vaccinated had “earned the right” to take off their masks and “greet others with a smile”.

“It is a good day for the country, we are not done yet and we are still losing too many Americans as there are still too many unvaccinated people,” he said.

“We will laugh again, know joy again and we will smile again.”

Mr Biden also took to Twitter to promote the new mask guidance.

“After a year of hard work and so much sacrifice, the rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile first lady Jill Biden took off her mask on a trip to West Virginia, where she was met by a maskless Jennifer Garner.

Ms Biden flew to the state to visit a vaccination clinic for students, and both women followed the CDC’s new masking guidance.

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