White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was so adamant about taking off his face mask to talk to reporters that when he was asked to keep it on, he just walked away. The scene took place at the Capitol on Monday during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Outside the Senate hearing room, Meadows seemed willing to talk to reporters. “Let me pull this away,” Meadows says as he moved back a microphone stand. Reporters seemed to support the move but then Meadows made his intention clear: “That way I can take this off,” he said.
CNN reporter Kristin Wilson asked Meadows to not take his mask off: “No can you please keep it on?” The concern seems obvious. After all, Meadows has been at the White House at a time when it has become a hot spot for coronavirus infections. But Meadows apparently saw the request as ridiculous. “I’m more than 10 feet away,” he protested. When the reporter again called on him to keep it on, Meadows simply put his mask back on and walked away: “I’m not going to talk through a mask.”
This isn’t the first time Meadows has pushed back on requests by reporters to wear a mask. Hours after President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Meadows addressed reporters outside the White House without a mask. “Yeah. So I’ve obviously been tested, we’re hopefully more than six feet away. And if there’s any concern there, from a guidance standpoint, we have protocols in place,” Meadows said when a journalist asked why he wasn’t wearing a mask.
The way Meadows thinks about COVID-19 transmission suggests maybe he isn’t up to date on the latest research involving COVID-19. Although a distance of six feet is the standard advice, the Centers for Disease Control has recently acknowledged that is not a golden rule. There are reports “showing limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area,” the CDC said earlier this month. The sequence of events outside the Senate hearing room was reminiscent of when President Donald Trump insisted a reporter take off his mask while asking him a question at a news conference. Trump claimed he couldn’t hear the reporter. The reporter refused and proceeded to talk louder.