Fact Check: Is It ‘Anti-Science’ To Urge Vaccinated People To Wear Masks?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas truth-O-meter.

By Brandon Mulder, PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman; radio story produced by Alexandra HartDecember 22, 2020 10:40 am, , , , ,

From PolitiFact Texas:

Mask guidance for vaccinated people is based in science.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took to Twitter Tuesday to challenge the latest coronavirus guidance as vaccines were being distributed around the country.

Cruz responded specifically to Dr. Vin Gupta, a lung and intensive care unit doctor who appeared on MSNBC to caution vaccine recipients against abandoning the kinds of preventative measures public health experts have been emphasizing all year.

“This is one of the misperceptions here: just because you get vaccinated with a second dose, it does not mean you should be participating in things like traveling in the middle of an out-of-control pandemic or that you’re liberated from masks,” Gupta told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. “Everything still applies until all of us get the two-dose regimen, and we don’t think that’s going to happen until June or July.”

Many unknowns surround the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. For instance, it’s unclear if vaccinations strictly protect infected people from serious illness, or if they also prevent people from getting infected, Gupta said.

“Don’t let your guard down just because you got vaccinated,” he said. “You might be able to get infected by the virus and pass it on to others.”

The comment was enough to peeve Cruz, who has previously criticized guidance to wear masks and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This is a bizarre, lunatic, totalitarian cult,” Cruz said in a tweet responsive to Gupta’s mask-wearing advice. “It’s not about vaccines or protecting people’s lives — it is instead profoundly anti-science, and is only focused on absolute govt control of every aspect of our lives.”

In July, Cruz faced criticism after he was photographed maskless on an American Airlines flight one month after the airline required passengers to wear face masks while onboard planes.

Cruz stirred controversy again when he called Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, “a complete ass” for asking a fellow senator to wear a mask while speaking. And in November, as Texas public health officials urged people to avoid large holiday gatherings as daily case numbers reached record highs, Cruz tweeted a graphic with the words “Come and take it” beneath a Thanksgiving turkey.

So is the latest round of COVID-19 guidance — urging continued mask-wearing and discouraging travel — “profoundly anti-science” as Cruz claims?

Read the full story at PolitFact, and hear an interview with PolitiFact’s Brandon Mulder in the audio player above.

PolitiFact rates Cruz’s claim as Pants on Fire.

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