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After months of Joe Biden touting his plans for a mask mandate as a near cure-all for COVID, it was noticeable to see him unmasked on Weds. Jan. 20 at the Lincoln Memorial. Especially since it was mere hours after signing an executive order making it mandatory to wear masks on federal property. Newly minted Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the administration has "bigger things to worry about."
A reporter asked newly minted Press Secretary Jen Psaki "Why weren't President Biden and all members of the Biden family masked on federal land last night if he signed an executive order that mandates masks on federal lands at all times?"
"At the inauguration?" Psaki asked for confirmation.
"At the Lincoln Memorial, yes."
Psaki smiled, "Well, I believe he was celebrating an evening, an historic day in our country and certainly he signed the mask mandate because it's a way to send a message to the American public about the importance of wearing masks, how it can save tens of thousands of lives.
"We take a number of COVID precautions, as you know here, including testing, social distancing, mask wearing ourselves, as we do every single day. But I don't know that I have more for you than that."
"Joe Biden often talks about that it's not just important the example of power but the power of our example. Was that a good example for people who are watching and might not pay attention normally?" The reporter asked in follow up.
"Well Steve, the power of his example is also the message he sends signing 25 executive orders, including almost half of them related to COVID. The requirements that we're all under every single day here to make sure that we're sending that message to the public.
"Yesterday was an important moment in our history," Psaki continued, "he was inaugurated as President of the United States. He was surrounded by his family. We take a number of precautions, but I think we have bigger issues to worry about at this moment in time."
On Jan. 20, shortly after being sworn in as president, Biden issued orders that anyone in federal buildings or on federal property must wear a mask. He has also proclaimed that for his first 100 days in office, all Americans should wear masks when they are not in public.
Biden was most certainly in public during the inauguration. His unmasked face brings to mind a number of other high profile politicians over the past nearly year of the COVID pandemic who have eschewed their own restrictions when they feel it is acceptable to do so. These include Governors Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo, as well as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as other mayors and officials.