PRESIDENT Joe Biden snapped at a reporter who asked him about his inconsistent mask-wearing during a press conference on Friday.
The testy exchange came after Biden delivered remarks in response to a disappointing report that found the economy added only 266,000 jobs last month – far below expectations.
While fielding questions, a reporter asked the president: “You walked out to the podium with your mask on. Why do you choose to wear a mask so often when you’re vaccinated and you’re around others who are vaccinated?”
Appearing to be irked by the question, Biden snapped: “Because I’m worried about you.”
The president then held up his hands and backtracked, saying, “No, that’s a joke. It’s a joke.”
He continued: “Why am I wearing the mask? Because when we’re inside it’s still good policy to wear the mask. That’s why.
“When I’m outside — the problem is lots of times I walk away from the podium I forget to put my mask back on because I’m used to not wearing it outside.”
Biden has come under increasing scrutiny in recent days over the mixed signals he’s been sending on mask use, leaving some Americans confused.
The CDC updated their guidelines last month to state that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in certain situations, such as when they are outside or in a room with other vaccinated individuals.
However, Biden, who is fully vaccinated, has been erratic and inconsistent in his embrace of the CDC’s new policy.
Critics have accused him of hypocrisy for not “following the science” as Democrats so often preach.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden continued to wear masks last week in instances where they did not need to after the CDC changed course.
The president stood masked on a mostly empty rally stage on Thursday evening as his wife introduced him.
The first lady also helped plant a tree on the White House lawn Friday while wearing a face mask.
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Biden defended himself in an interview with NBC News on Friday, saying that although it may seem he’s sending mixed messages, he’s actually being sensible because there’s a chance an infected person could approach him.
“The likelyhood of my being able to be outside and people not come up to me is not very, very high,” he said. “So it’s like, look, you and I took our masks off when I came in because look at the distance we are. But if we were in fact sitting there talking to one another close, I’d have my mask on and I’d make you to have a mask, even though we both been vaccinated.
“And so it’s a small precaution to take that has a profound impact. It’s a patriotic responsibility for God’s sake. It’s making sure that your wife, your children, if in fact they haven’t been vaccinated, making sure that they’re not going to get sick.”