The House of Representatives dropped its mask requirement, which has been in place since last July, according to a policy update sent out Sunday, two days before President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
The update specified that individuals attending Biden’s address, which takes place in the House chamber, will no longer be required to wear masks to the event. This represents a change from guidance sent out February 17 that stated attendees would be required to wear KN95 or N95 masks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday that it was scaling back its mask-wearing recommendations.
The congressional update, sent from Attending Physician Dr. Brian Monahan, stated, “The Washington DC region is now in the ‘green level’ or low level in this new CDC schema allowing for reduction in coronavirus prevention measures such as coronavirus testing frequency and indoor mask wearing.”
Read the update below:
The House side of the Capitol building — but not the Senate side — has had a mask mandate in place since July 28.
Monahan noted that for the State of the Union address in particular, other established mandates, including that attendees show proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken within one day of the address, would remain in place.
The changes come as Biden’s approval rating has sunk to record lows. A Washington Post/ABC poll published Sunday found the president’s overall approval rating at a new low of 37 percent, and found that approval of his management of coronavirus, specifically, had steadily dropped over the past year, from 64 percent approval last April to 44 percent approval as of February 24.
Biden’s decline in approval of his handling of the virus comes “even as the number of covid cases has dropped sharply and a general easing of mask mandates and other restrictions is underway in many parts of the country,” the Post noted.
The national seven-day average of new coronavirus cases is relatively low, though not as low as it was last summer, according to Worldometer data.
Democrat leaders nationwide began lifting their mask and vaccine restrictions this month amid some high-profile Democrats, such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and others, drawing outrage for being caught photographed or videoed not wearing masks while enforcing or supporting mask mandates for others.
Write to Ashley Oliver at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.