Friction over the House’s mask-wearing requirements increased after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines last month, saying it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to skip face coverings and social distancing in virtually all situations.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., sought to get the Office of the Attending Physician to update its guidance for mask wearing, but Democrats defeated it along a party-line vote of 218-210. The physician's office is the medical unit of Congress.
Dr. Brian P. Monahan, head of the medical office, said in Friday's memo that the relaxed requirements for those who have been vaccinated stem from a “continuous reduction of coronavirus community spread.” He also said that face coverings would still be required for those who are not fully vaccinated and for “vaccination-indeterminate individuals.”
He noted that about 43% of Americans are fully vaccinated and 52% have received at least one dose. “Congressional community vaccination rates are generally much higher but vary between Offices and Agencies,” he wrote.
There is no requirement for wearing masks in the Senate chamber.