Although he was infected with COVID-19 in March 2020 and recovered from it, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has been lax about wearing protective face masks indoors — and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio called him out for it on May 4.
The Cincinnati Inquirer's Jackie Borchardt reports that during a mass vaccination event in Columbus, Ohio that day, Brown said of Paul, "He's kind of a lunatic. He thinks he wants to be different, but it doesn't serve the public interest."
Paul has drawn a great deal of criticism from health experts for clashing with Dr. Anthony Fauci on March 18. Questioning Fauci during a hearing, Paul insisted that it was pointless "theater" for people who have been fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 coronavirus to wear masks in public. Fauci, the 80-year-old director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden's top medical adviser in the White House, vehemently disagrees. The expert immunologist has warned that although the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and others offer major protection, it is still possible for someone who has been fully vaccinated to be infected and spread COVID-19 to others — and for that reason, Fauci recommends wearing masks as an added precaution.
Brown shares Fauci's view. Although the Ohio Democrat has been fully vaccinated, he wore a mask throughout the May 4 vaccination event in Columbus.
Being infected with an illness despite vaccination is what medical experts refer to as "breakthrough" cases. Of the millions of people who receive flu shots every year, the vast majority will not get the flu. But a small minority of breakthrough cases will occur — and similarly, there have been breakthrough cases with the COVID-19 vaccines. Fauci recommends that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks in public places — visiting a supermarket or using public transportation, for example — in case they become breakthrough cases and come in contact with people who have not been vaccinated.
Borchardt notes, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised last week that fully vaccinated people could safely gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart. Post-vaccination 'breakthrough' cases and hospitalizations have occurred but are very rare. Only 9245 'breakthrough' cases and 835 hospitalizations have been reported out of more than 95 million people who have been fully vaccinated in the U.S. as of April 26."