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Conspiracy theories emerge amid Jill Biden’s COVID-19 diagnosis, prompting speculation on return of mask mandates

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Amid the news of First Lady Jill Biden testing positive for COVID-19, conspiracy theories have emerged online, suggesting a hidden agenda behind the announcement. The First Lady’s communications director, Elizabeth Alexander, confirmed her positive test and mild symptoms, revealing she would be isolating at the family’s Delaware beach house.

(FILES) US First Lady Jill Biden speaks during a back-to-school K-12 Cybersecurity Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 8, 2023. The First Lady’s communications director, Elizabeth Alexander, issued a statement on September 4 announcing that First Lady Jill Biden had tested positive for Covid-19. She is currently experiencing only mild symptoms.(AFP)

The White House later reported that President Joe Biden had tested negative but would continue to be monitored. This positive infection for President Biden, 80, comes at a potentially inconvenient time, as he is scheduled to travel to India for a G20 summit and Vietnam for a diplomatic visit.

However, the timing of Jill Biden’s infection announcement coincides with a spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States, driven by the emergence of new virus variants. This has led to speculation that the country might see a return of pandemic restrictions, including mask mandates.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows over 15,000 COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the U.S. during the week ending August 19—a nearly 19 percent increase from the previous week. While hospital admissions have been steadily rising since July, they remain below the pandemic’s peak levels and are concentrated in specific hotspots.

The CDC, at present, has no plans to reinstate mandatory mask-wearing but has not ruled out the possibility if cases linked to new variants increase significantly.

Conspiracy theories about COVID-19 restrictions have been circulating for some time. In August, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones predicted mandatory mask-wearing on air travel by mid-October, followed by a “full COVID protocol” return by December. Authorities, however, have refuted these claims, with the Transportation Security Administration and CDC dismissing them as baseless.

Conspiracy theorists have seized upon Jill Biden’s diagnosis as evidence of a nefarious plot. Some have suggested it’s a deliberate ploy to push for renewed lockdowns. Others have questioned why she contracted the virus despite being vaccinated and receiving booster shots.

Experts clarify that vaccines primarily enhance the body’s ability to fight an infection rather than preventing it altogether. This is akin to a castle wall that doesn’t stop an attack but makes the castle easier to defend when an attack occurs.

Mask mandates have become a contentious issue, with debates over personal liberties versus public health. Some states have banned mask mandates in public institutions, while others are open to reinstating them if deemed necessary.

While there are varying opinions in the scientific community regarding the effectiveness of masks, most experts agree that, when used in conjunction with other measures like handwashing, social distancing, and vaccination, they play a crucial role in curbing the virus’s spread.Conspiracy theories emerge amid Jill Biden's COVID-19 diagnosis, prompting speculation on return of mask mandates

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