FIRST ON FOX: Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Thursday plans to roll out a measure that would direct the Government Accountability Office to review the decision-making process for public health messaging at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after the agency reversed its guidance on mask-wearing for vaccinated individuals.
The bill, obtained before introduction by Fox News, called the Restore Public Health Institution Trust Act, would direct the GAO to review the data the CDC uses to make its recommendations.
The bill would also have the GAO review the impact of “inconsistent messaging” on Americans’ trust in the institution and their “willingness” to follow guidance.
The bill would also have the GAO review “the degree to which outside entities” impacted those recommendations. Rubio’s legislation specifically questions whether teachers unions were involved in the decision-making process.
“In a dramatic reversal of their previous guidance, President Biden’s CDC has seemingly decided that our businesses, churches, and schools should remain masked up and potentially locked down forever,” Rubio told Fox News. “This new guidance is confusing and Americans are frustrated.”
“Telling vaccinated individuals to wear masks without providing data undercuts the message that vaccines are highly effective against the virus,” Rubio continued, adding that his bill “would bring more transparency to the Administration’s decisions and reveal whether or not there is data to back up this nonsensical new masking guidance.”
“For public health mitigation measures to be effective, Americans need to be able to trust that all recommendations are science-based and justifiable—in that respect, and many others, the CDC has failed,” he added.
The CDC this week reversed its earlier guidance that only unvaccinated individuals should wear face coverings, saying that vaccinated individuals should resume wearing masks in certain situations to protect against COVID-19.
In May, the CDC announced that vaccinated individuals were not required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, or physically distance, while maintaining that unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks and socially distance.
At the time, the CDC still recommended that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks while in crowded indoor settings, such as riding public transportation and in hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explained this week that the reason for the CDC’s reversal on indoor masking for vaccinated people is because “in rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and pass the virus to others.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., walks to the Senate subway after a vote in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) ( (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images))
They “may be contagious,” Walensky said, because “the amount of virus” in vaccinated people infected by the delta variant “is pretty similar to the amount of virus in unvaccinated people.”
According to the Associated Press, the data to support this claim emerged over the last couple of days from over 100 samples from several states and one other country. The CDC has not released the data yet, though a CDC official familiar with the process told Fox News that the data will be published Friday.
CDC guidance published Tuesday cited “unpublished data” reviewed by its COVID-19 Response Team.
The CDC cannot itself mandate mask-wearing — state and local governments do. But many state and local governments closely follow the CDC’s guidance on the coronavirus, and some immediately adopted mask mandates after the CDC announcement Tuesday, including Nevada and Kansas City, Mo.
The new CDC mask guidance comes despite the fact that COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. The vaccines also massively reduce the risk of virus transmission.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.