Washington Begins to Unmask, Following C.D.C. Guidance

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And in more dramatic corners of the capital, other lawmakers celebrated the new guidance.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to reporters as he addressed them without a mask for the first time in months: “Free at last.”

On the road in Charleston, Dr. Biden, accompanied by Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrats of West Virginia, did their part to motivate the public. Once on the ground, Mr. Manchin immediately got to work speaking into a succession of local news cameras.

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“You’ve all seen the latest from the C.D.C.? That means no masks inside or outside,” Mr. Manchin said to a group of reporters.

“What does that mean for the people of West Virginia?” a reporter asked.

“It means get vaccinated!” Mr. Manchin said. “We feel free.”

It didn’t hurt their cause that the actress Jennifer Garner, who grew up in the state, appeared alongside them for the visit. Ms. Garner, who had shown up to the airport in Charleston wearing a mask, quickly stripped it off as she saw the first lady descend the plane steps.

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As she toured the high school with Dr. Biden, Mr. Manchin, and his wife, Gayle, Ms. Garner smiled, mask-free, at a set of starry-eyed high school students.

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“I kind of can’t believe that I’m standing here without a mask on looking at maskless faces,” Ms. Garner said to a group in the school’s gymnasium.

All around her, people began removing masks from their faces, their smiles again visible.



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