President Donald Trump retweeted a post questioning ‘experts’ who promote masks to stop the coronavirus Friday – just minutes after Vice President Mike Pence got vaccinated on live television and urged Americans to take precautions.
Trump’s retweet came at 8:50 am – and followed Pence, second lady Karen Pence, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams all getting vaccinated on TV and urged Americans to take precautions to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The president retweeted conservative commentator and podcaster Buck Sexton, who had written a post blasting scientific experts and questioned the efficacy of mask mandates.
‘Again, I ask the “experts” this question in earnest: what would this graph of covid cases look like *without* mask mandates?’ wrote Sexton, who posted a graph. ‘“Masks work” is the mantra. Not allowed to say anything else on Twitter (seriously, it’s not allowed)- But how well do mandates work?’ he wrote.
Sexton posted a graph that showed a steep spike in cases in Denmark, which showed an acceleration of infections even after the mask mandate – although myriad factors can contribute to such a spike, including spread within a community after the virus has already taken hold or failure to heed or properly follow mask guidance.
Trump’s tweet undermined the public health message Pence delivered both with his vaccine gesture and with his words – although even in his remarks Pence used soft language to encourage mask usage.
Vice President Mike Pence receives the COVID-19 vaccine in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, December 18, 2020. He vouched for the safety of the vaccine and urged Americans to wear masks when ‘indicated’
Trump retweeted a conservative commentator – James ‘Buck’ Sexton – who questioned mask mandates
Surgeon General Jerome Adams receives the COVID-19 vaccine in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, December 18, 2020
Officials such as Centers for Disease Control Robert Redfield have said masks can do more to stop the spread of the virus devastating the nation than even the vaccine.
Pence called for Americans to practice ‘good hygiene’ and urged them to ‘practice social distancing and wear a mask whenever it’s indicated or whenever you’re unable to practice distance.’
President-elect Joe Biden has said he would urge all Americans to wear masks in a 100-day blitz seeking to slow the spread of the virus.
Pence’s shot was part of a PR effort that also included remarks by Dr. Anthony Fauci and remarks by the surgeon general, Jerome Adams, who is black, and who tried to overcome any resistance among African Americans due to chapters in the nation’s history of unethical medical experimentation.
Pence became the highest-ranking U.S. official to receive the coronavirus vaccine when he received his first dose.
‘I didn’t feel a thing. Well done. We appreciate your service to the country,’ Pence said in remarks directly after he rolled up his left sleeve and received his injection.
The vice president, who heads the White House coronavirus taskforce, said he believed that ‘history will record that this week is the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic.’
But the record of infections and deaths stands in contrast to his optimistic tone: there are now more than 310,000 dead since the pandemic began, and in the last week, the record for the daily death tolls has been consistently broke. On Thursday it was 3,270; Wednesday saw the all-time high of 3,656.
There have now been 17.2 million cases, hospitals in areas including southern California are out of ICU beds, and the economy is on track for negative growth in the first quarter of next year.
Pence, however, claimed Trump was right to say ‘we are rounding the corner.’ Trump himself was absent and Pence did not respond to questions about when he would get the vaccine.
Vice President Mike Pence (left), second lady Karen Pence (center) and Surgeon General Jerome Adams (right) were seated, ready to receive their coronavirus vaccines
Get ready: Drs. Tony Fauci and Robert Redfield were present in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex, as Mike Pence got his shot
Are you sitting comfortably? Mike Pence’s wife Karen was second to get the shot after Surgeon General Jerome Adams, with the vice president third as Walter Reed staff went along the line
Vice President Mike Pence gave brief remarks after he received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine Friday morning
Surgeon General Jerome Adams (left) will also get vaccinated Friday. He was photographed prior to the event alongside Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short, Dr. Anthony Fauci and another aide
Medical workers from Walter Reed Medical Center await Vice President Mike Pence, second lady Karen Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who will be vaccinated against the coronavirus Friday
Second lady Karen Pence is shown getting the coronavirus vaccine Friday morning, alongside her husband Vice President Mike Pence
Surgeon General Jerome Adams spoke after being vaccinated and encouraged minority communities to get the shot
Pence thanked members of the taskforce, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, the team at FEMA and Dr. Ben Carson, an acclaimed surgeon who heads Housing and Urban Development.
He also pleaded with the American public to continue to wash their hands, stay socially distant and wear masks, as the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet.
Pence took the vaccine with large signs behind him that read ‘Safe and Effective’ and ‘Operation Warp Speed,’ the Trump administration program that fast-tracked a vaccine.
The vice president said during his remarks that ‘hope is on the way’ and marveled that while regular vaccine developments take between eight and 12 years, the U.S. was about to have two coronavirus vaccines and ‘millions of doses in less than one year.’
‘Make no mistake about it, it’s a medical miracle,’ Pence said. ‘It’s a miracle indeed.’
Adams echoed that sentiment saying, ‘the creation of these vaccines is a gift from above.’
He spoke next, impressing upon minority communities, especially, to get the vaccine.
Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke at the Friday morning event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Feeling good: Surgeon General Jerome Adams gave a thumbs-up as the needle came out
‘And as the U.S. surgeon general and a black man, I am equally aware of the symbolic significance of my vaccination today,’ Adams said.
‘It would truly be the greatest tragedy of all if disparities in COVID outcomes actually worsened because the people who could most benefit from this vaccine can’t get it or won’t take it,’ Adams continued.
Adams spoke of the ‘lack of trust’ in communities of color and said it was not ‘without good reason.
The surgeon general referenced the ‘Tuskegee experiments,’ an unethical study where syphilis was given to African-Americans by the United States Public Health Service and was left untreated.
Adams also name-dropped Henrietta Lacks, the black woman who was the source of the HeLa cell line, that allowed for major medical advances, but who was never properly compensated.
‘Working to combat mistrust and misinformation will be critical if we are to ensure the equitable protection of all Americans against COVID-19,’ he said.
Fauci was the final speaker at the brief program, calling it the ‘most extraordinary undertaking.’
The nation’s top infectious disease expert recalled that it was a year plus a few weeks ago that Redfield called him and said ‘I think we have a problem,’ citing information from sources in China that something ‘very unusual going on there.’
Fauci said a week and a half after that conversation, the effort that would ultimately bring about the Pfizer and now Moderna vaccines was put into motion.
‘And what we saw was the marriage between years of fundamental basic and clinical research that led to the extraordinary technology that have allowed us – and when I saw us I mean the medical community … to do something that is truly unprecedented,’ Fauci said.
‘We want virtually everyone eligible to get this vaccine ultimately,’ Fauci advised.
Fauci assured the public that vaccine development wasn’t done in haste.
‘The speed was a reflection of extraordinary scientific advances and did not compromise safety nor did it compromise scientific integrity,’ Fauci said.
He also said natural questions included ‘is this something the government is trying to put over on us’ and ‘is this something that companies want to take advantage of,’ as he explained that an independent body makes the decision on whether the vaccine is safe and effective, not private industry and not the Trump administration.
‘It is really bittersweet,’ Fauci also offered. ‘The bitterness is the fact of what the vice president mentioned: We still are in the middle of a very difficult situation with record numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. But the sweetness is the light at the end of the tunnel, which I can tell you, as we get into January, February, March and April, that light is going to get brighter and brighter. And the bitterness is going to be replaced by the sweetness.’
‘And we all hope, and I think this is doable, that by the time we get to several months into this year, we will have enough people protected that we can start thinking seriously about the return of normality,’ Fauci added.
President Donald Trump was not at the event Friday and hasn’t been seen publicly since traveling last weekend to the Army-Navy game.
He continues to refuse to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump had COVID-19 in October, with the president having to be briefly hospitalized, and so won’t receive the coronavirus vaccine right away.
Biden is expected to get the vaccine early next week and, like the Pences, get the injection publicly.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton all said they would take the vaccine in front of cameras too.