Tags: Trump Administration | masks | virus

COVID-19 Rise in Some States Divides GOP Over Face Masks

COVID-19 Rise in Some States Divides GOP Over Face Masks
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell puts on his face mask after speaking to members of the media following the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at Hart Senate Office Building last week. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Monday, 29 June 2020 03:43 PM

In a rare break with mask-averse President Donald Trump, fellow Republican leaders are advocating for face coverings as COVID-19 cases rise in some Republican-leaning states.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there should be no stigma attached.

"Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we encounter," McConnell said on the floor of the Senate.

The top Republican in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, said Americans should follow the recommendations of health officials to wear masks and socially distance themselves to help slow the spread of infection.

"They should wear a mask," McCarthy told CNBC on Monday after his home state of California began to roll back efforts to reopen the economy.

Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, where cases are spiking, posted a similar message on Twitter, writing: "I am encouraging everyone to WEAR YOUR MASKS!"

Trump has given different reasons for eschewing a mask in public, while his Democratic opponent in November's election, Joe Biden, generally wears one.

In April, Trump said he could not picture himself in a mask while greeting "presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens." He also said he did not want to give journalists the pleasure of seeing him wear one.

JACKSONVILLE JOINS IN

The city of Jacksonville, Florida, where Trump will accept the Republican presidential nomination in August, adopted a mandatory mask requirement for public and indoor locations on Monday.

Asked if the surge in cases and Jacksonville action had changed Trump's thinking on masks, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump believed it was a personal choice. "But he did say to me he has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you," she said.

Throughout the country, resistance to public health measures has taken on a partisan tone. A Reuters/Ipsos survey in May found one-third of Republicans were "very concerned" about the virus, compared to nearly half of Democrats.

New York's Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, appealed to Trump to mandate wearing masks and lead by example. He pointed to states that reversed course and started requiring masks after seeing a surge. "Let the president have the same sense and do that as an executive order," Cuomo told reporters.

Some Republicans in Congress have held off on wearing masks. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas told CNN he would not wear one because "I don't have the coronavirus." Other Republicans have shied away from insisting Americans cover their faces in public, saying it was a matter of personal choice.

That began to change as coronavirus cases nationwide rose anew, prompting Republican-led states like Texas and Florida to reimpose restrictions, such as closing recently reopened bars.

Vice President Mike Pence encouraged Americans to wear masks during a visit to Texas on Sunday, though he personally did not wear one.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming on Friday tweeted a photo of her father, Republican former Vice President Dick Cheney, wearing a surgical mask with the hashtag #realmenwearmasks. 

© 2020 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


   
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In a rare break with mask-averse President Donald Trump, fellow Republican leaders are advocating for face coverings as COVID-19 cases rise in some Republican-leaning states. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there should be no stigma attached."Wearing simple face...
masks, virus
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2020-43-29
Monday, 29 June 2020 03:43 PM
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