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16 May, 2020 11:06

‘Camera off, mask off?’ CNN reporter blasted for removing mask seconds after end of WH press briefing

‘Camera off, mask off?’ CNN reporter blasted for removing mask seconds after end of WH press briefing

CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins has been accused of Covid-19 theatrics, as she was caught hastily removing her face mask after a White House briefing. Collins has criticized Donald Trump for not wearing masks in public.

Despite the president's ‘masks are optional’ policy at White House briefings, the CNN journalist, like most of her colleagues, wore one during the press event on Friday.

However, when Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany walked off the podium, Collins wasted no time in taking off the protective item as she brushed past other people in the room – a social distancing faux pas in the age of coronavirus.

Her seemingly contradictory behavior caught the eye of conservative commentators. “She thought cameras were off, so mask goes off,” joked Mike Cernovich.

The media use masks to “perpetuate fear,” argued one observer. “It’s a feature not a bug.”

Incidentally, Collins grilled Trump over why he wasn’t wearing personal protection equipment (PPE) during a briefing on a Covid-19 vaccine in the Rose Garden on the same day.

“We’ve all been tested. I’ve been tested,” Trump replied, adding that he told administration officials that masks were optional for the event.

The CNN reporter is not alone in her selective use of PPE. Photos from past White House briefings appear to show journalists chatting among themselves with their masks in hand.

The White House seems to be taking the issue more seriously after a couple of confirmed cases. Regular testing is conducted among journalists who cover Donald Trump and the White House. Reporters also have their temperatures taken and are spaced out across the briefing room in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

A fiery debate has erupted around whether mask-wearing within the general public – a rule enacted in many cities and states across the country – is actually effective in stopping the spread of coronavirus. Much of the confusion comes from contradictory guidance from different health organizations.

For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that “there is not enough evidence for or against the use of masks (medical or other) for healthy individuals in the wider community,” and that within the general public, masks should only be worn if you are sick or taking care of someone infected with Covid-19.

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On the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended cloth face coverings in situations where social distancing guidelines are difficult to maintain. 

Making matters even more confusing, the WHO has argued that cloth face coverings could actually increase the chance of getting infected “if the mask is contaminated by dirty hands and touched often.”

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