When Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) of Washington, D.C., announced this week she was enacting a face mask mandate in the nation's capital, questions immediately arose over why the mandate would not take effect until days later.
After all, if COVID-19 transmission is serious enough to warrant another face mask mandate, should it not take effect immediately?
That question may have found its answer Friday night.
What is the background?
Bowser announced Thursday that people in the nation's capital, regardless of vaccination status, would be required to wear face masks indoors beginning 5 a.m. Saturday.
"We will continue to do what is necessary to keep D.C. safe," Bowser said. She did not explain why the mandate would take effect two days after her announcement.
What may explain the gap?
Photos surfaced on Saturday purportedly showing Bowser celebrating her birthday, which is Aug. 2. The photos show attendees, including the mayor and comedian Dave Chappelle, not wearing face masks.
The DJ who allegedly worked the celebration posted a photo on Instagram showing the maskless crowd. "When your asked to Dj for the Mayor!!! Happy Birthday @mayor_bowser," the DJ captioned the now-deleted photo.
Another photo showed Bowser and Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio posing with Chappelle.
Muriel Bowser mask mandate started at 5AM this morning. (h/t @BradEngle for the birthday party pic) https://t.co/bLAtlmTftk— Jerry Dunleavy (@Jerry Dunleavy)1627739470.0
Bowser's decision not to wear a face mask directly put the health of others at risk, at least according to her own COVID-19 face mask guidance. "Choosing not to wear a mask puts your own health as well as the health of others at risk," the DC face mask guidance states.
The guidance also states, "A mask is not a substitute for physical distancing." As the photos show, Bowser did not follow that directive, either.