In a rare split with President Donald Trump, who opposes the mask, Republican leaders are publicly pushing to cover their faces as COVID-19 cases increase in some Republican-leaning states.
House Republican Top Kevin McCarthy said every American has a responsibility to follow recommendations by United States health officials to wear masks and distance themselves socially to help slow the spread of the infection.
“They should wear a mask,” McCarthy told CNBC on Monday after his home state of California began to reverse efforts to reopen the economy. “If you can’t distance yourself socially, you should wear a mask and be respectful of each other.”
Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, where cases are skyrocketing, posted a similar message on Twitter.
“I am encouraging everyone to USE YOUR MASKS!” he said.
Georgia @GovKemp embarks on a state tour for wearing a mask before the holiday weekend. It also announced the distribution of 3M cloth masks to schools and local governments. #gapol pic.twitter.com/iZ4BGOc58j
– Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) June 29, 2020
Trump has given at least two reasons to avoid a mask in public, while his Democratic opponent in the November election, former Vice President Joe Biden, generally wears one.
Trump has said that he cannot represent himself wearing a mask while greeting royalty and foreign leaders, including dictators. He also said he did not want to give journalists the pleasure of watching him wear one.
The city of Jacksonville, Florida, where Trump is expected to accept the Republican presidential nomination in August, adopted a mandatory mask requirement for public and closed places on Monday. The city’s mayor, Lenny Curry, is a Republican.
When asked if the increase in Jacksonville cases and action had changed Trump’s idea of wearing a mask, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters: “It is the personal choice of any person on whether to wear a mask or not. ” Make the decision that is best for your safety, but you told me you have no problem with the masks and do whatever the local jurisdiction requires. “
Representative James Clyburn told fellow Republicans that the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will not recognize members who do not wear a mask during the session. https://t.co/MMBPe8c5eK
– Kyle Griffin (@ kylegriffin1) June 29, 2020
Across the country, resistance to public health measures has taken on a partisan tone. A Reuters / Ipsos poll in May found that a third of Republicans were “very concerned” about the virus, compared to almost half of Democrats.
Some Republicans in Congress have delayed wearing masks. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas told CNN that he would not use one because “I don’t have the coronavirus.” Other Republicans have avoided insisting that Americans cover their faces in public, saying it was a matter of personal choice.
That began to change as coronavirus cases across the country rocketed to record levels day after day, prompting Republican-led states like Texas and Florida to reimpose restrictions, such as closing recently reopened bars.
Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK. #realmenwearmasks pic.twitter.com/iBfVoa7ypL
– Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) June 26, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence encouraged Americans to wear masks during a visit to Texas on Sunday.
In one of the most compelling images, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted a photo of her father, former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney, wearing a surgical mask with the hashtag #realmenwearmasks on Friday.
Reuters news agency