Conspiracy theories ensued after President Joe Biden announced plans to wear masks indoors after First Lady Jill Biden contracted COVID-19.
Elizabeth Alexander, Jill Biden’s communications director, confirmed Monday night that the first lady had tested positive for the virus but had “only mild symptoms.” On Tuesday, White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said the president was asymptomatic and had tested negative twice, but “would wear a mask when indoors and around people.”
The recent emergence of new coronavirus variants has led to a surge in cases and prompted some experts to express public health concerns heading into the fall. While mask mandates are currently in effect in only a handful of places across the country, Republicans have grown increasingly angry about the possibility of a comeback in restrictions such as mask mandates and lockdowns.
The news that Biden would resume wearing a mask due to the illness of the first lady has prompted some online commentators to baselessly suggest that nationwide restrictions are coming.Some especially praised the prediction information warfare Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed last month that “sweeping coronavirus restrictions” would be implemented by mid-September.
While there’s no evidence the federal government plans to impose any mask mandates or other new requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a post on the website Infowars on Tuesday said Biden wearing a mask is just the beginning of “deep state readiness for more outbreaks.” Medical tyranny” — a sentiment echoed by some on X (formerly Twitter).
“Joe Biden will officially wear a mask again,” right-wing commentator Logan “DC Draino” Ohandley release. ‘Alex Jones is right, they are bringing back masks’
“Biden is wearing a mask again” release Conservative journalist Kyle Becker. “The solution is in place. They’re bringing back the hysteria over the coronavirus for the election”
“Now that Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19, the Biden administration is reportedly preparing for another nationwide mask and quarantine mandate,” Trump train account release. “Will you abide by more coronavirus restrictions? Yes or no?”
“Biden wore a mask today! I will be violating his mask policy,” release Comedian and pro-Trump commentator Terrence K. Williams. “Who’s with me”
“Haha. 2024 is here early”, user @ElliotKHudson release. “Democrats love Nazi lockdown, White House says Biden will start wearing masks”
“It’s official: Joe Biden will start wearing masks again,” release Account of Young America for Freedom. “The push has already begun.”
‘Biden will wear a mask,’ says conservative reporter Libby Emmons release. “They’re really going to try to do that.”
“Biden is going to get COVID and die,” @shooflyholypie claimed in a statement reply to Emmons. “That’s what they said it was fatal and it was locked down again.”
White House spokesman told Weekly newspaper “The rumors we’ve seen about plans to make masks mandatory are not true,” while noting “an increase in misinformation about the issue in the media and on social media.”
The spokesperson also noted that “the White House is not required to wear a mask” and that the president is planning to wear one “out of an abundance of caution and in line with” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
Biden appeared at the White House wearing a mask on Tuesday afternoon, but quickly removed it during a Medal of Honor award to 81-year-old retired Army Captain Larry Taylor.
Jean-Pierre had said earlier in the day that the president would remove his mask “while maintaining sufficient distance from other people, both indoors and outdoors.”
UPDATE: 9/5/23 7:49PM: This article has been updated with comments from the White House.