Biden powerless to enforce ‘vax or mask’ rule

President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the Colonial Pipeline hack, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

RALEIGH — On Thursday, May 13, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced updated interim public health recommendations to stop the spread of COVID-19 for citizens who are fully vaccinated.

The CDC, headquartered in Atlanta, is the United States’ public health agency and operates as a federal agency under the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

The new guidance says that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting but going maskless is not guaranteed.

The caveat to this new guidance is that mask and social distancing rules still apply where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

President Joe Biden took to Twitter on Thursday with a pair of tweets, the first saying, “The rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do. The choice is yours.”

The second features a 5-second video clip of Biden sitting on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, saying, “vaxxed or masked.”

Despite the message from Biden, there are no official powers to enforce either vaccinations or mask mandates by the president.

During a flurry of executive activity his first days in office, Biden did sign an executive order requiring face coverings on federal property. He, First Lady Jill Biden, and others did appear to break this order during inauguration ceremonies, however.

As stated by the CDC, vaccinations and mask mandates are carried out at the state level.

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper lifted the state’s mask mandate that had been in place since June 26, 2020 on Friday, May 14.. The mask mandate applied to required in retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and child care facilities, in state government, mass transportation, meat and poultry processing plants, and most health care settings.

Face masks, will still be required in some settings, however, including schools, child care facilities, health care settings, public transportation, and prisons.