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"You're welcome to step away": Senator Ted Cruz refuses to put on mask after reporter asks during press conference

Fauci on COVID-19 variants, vaccines
Dr. Anthony Fauci on COVID-19 variants, latest on vaccines, concerns as spring approaches 05:51

During a press conference to discuss Republican Senators' upcoming visit to the Southern border, Senator Ted Cruz refused to wear a mask after a reporter asked him to put one on.

The Texas senator is seen approaching the podium, maskless, as his colleagues, all of whom appear to be wearing masks, follow him.

"Do you mind putting a mask on for us?" an off-camera reporter asks.

"Yeah, when I'm talking to the TV camera, I'm not going to wear a mask. All of us have been immunized," Cruz replies. 

When the reporter says it would make the group feel better if Cruz wore a mask, the senator replied: "You're welcome to step away, if you'd like."

"The whole point of the vaccine. CDC guidance is what we're following," he said. Cruz, however is incorrect – CDC guidance is to continue wearing a mask after being vaccinated.

"We're still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19," the CDC says. "After you've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces until we know more."

Earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told "CBS This Morning" that Americans should continue to wear masks even after they are vaccinated against COVID-19. After Senator Rand Paul said wearing a mask after being vaccinated is "theater," Fauci said the Kentucky Republican was "dead wrong." 

"Senator Paul has this message that we don't need masks, which goes against just about everything we know about how to prevent spread of the virus," Fauci, who is on the White House COVID-19 task force, told "CBS This Morning." 

While other politicians and public figures give speeches and press conferences without masks, they are often socially distanced from reporters and audience members, including White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. 

During a press briefing last week, Psaki said she is vaccinated, but still wears a mask "because there hasn't been conclusive studies yet on the transferability of the pandemic — or of COVID from those who have been vaccinated." 

When asked what President Joe Biden meant when he said it's important to get the vaccine and continue to wear a mask after, Psaki said: "I think he's speaking generally about the need to still observe measures like social distancing and wearing of masks so that, even when you're vaccinated, you're keeping your neighbors, your friends, your family members safe."

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