A White House hot mic picked up someone — whom Mediaite has learned was New York Times photographer Doug Mills — apparently joking with Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts that “We’ve all been vaccinated” against the coronavirus “around here.”
As conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic abound, a hot mic exchange from before Monday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing could contribute to a surge in tinfoil protective headgear if it’s taken seriously.
When White House briefings are streamed live, some outlets carry the feeds — with audio and video — long before the events start. On Monday, one such feed
“What do you know, buddy?” Mills asks Roberts, who tells him “You can take off the mask, the case fatality rate is 0.1 to 0.3 according to USC.”
Roberts was referencing a study that evaluated tests on a representative sample of 863 L.A. County residents. Roberts’ offhand advice — also potentially exaggerated for humorous effect — to “take off the mask” is not included in L.A. County public health officials’ findings from the study, which include the need to continue “broad social distancing measures.”
“Really? That’s reassuring,” Mills tells Roberts, then cracks “Everybody here has been vaccinated anyway.”
Without missing a beat, Roberts details some of the study’s findings, telling him “USC and LA County public health came out with a study that found that there are 7,000 cases in California but they really believe there are anywhere from 221, 000 to 442,000 people who are infected.”
As they both walk out of frame, Mills jokes “So it was a hoax,” to which Roberts replies “No, I don’t think it was a hoax.”
Even by optimistic standards, a vaccine is not expected until some time next year.