Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, got into a verbal spat with a reporter during a press conference after the senator declined to put on a mask, saying that he and the other senators standing near him "have been immunized" against COVID-19.
"Would you mind putting on a mask for us?" a reporter asked Cruz during the event on Wednesday, according to Mediaite.
"Uh, yeah, when I’m talking to the TV camera, I’m not going to wear a mask," Cruz replied. "All of us have been immunized."
The reporter said, "It’d make us feel better," but Cruz refused.
"You’re welcome to step away if you’d like," the senator said. "The whole point of the vaccine, CDC guidance is what we’re following."
The CDC’s official guidance states: "You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Take these precautions whenever you are … in public."
It adds, "We're still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. If you've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces until we know more."
Some reporters noted that Cruz is not the only political figure to speak without a mask during a press conference, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki doing so during briefings for the last two months, according to James Surowiecki.
Psaki told reporters, according to The New York Times, that "If health and medical experts told me I should wear a mask while I was briefing, I would do it. But I am following the guidelines they are giving us, as is the president."
President Joe Biden previously introduced an executive order which requires "individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines."
Cruz has frequently criticized and ridiculed mask-wearing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying during his speech at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference: "Now they're saying, everybody can get immunized, we can have herd immunity everywhere, and we're going to wear masks for the next 300 years. And by the way, not just one mask, two, three, four. You can't have too many masks. How much virtue do you want to signal? This is just dumb."
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