0 Shares 32 Views

Amid surge in coronavirus cases and mounting criticism, GOP leaders do about-face on masks

Jun 30, 2020
0 33

WASHINGTON — As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage large swaths of the U.S., leading Republicans and even some right-wing television personalities have now come out in favor of wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus. The move signals what could be a broader shift in what has become a partisan issue, much to the dismay of public health officials.

“We must have no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday. 

McConnell explained that wearing a face mask is less an act of self-preservation than one of altruism, since the primary function of a face mask, respirator or cloth covering is to keep the wearer from spreading his or her own viral particles to others. “Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter,” McConnell said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, wears a protective mask as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media following the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, wears a protective mask as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media following the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and President Trump in Washington on May 19. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also came out in favor of face coverings. “They should wear a mask,” he said, though most Republicans in his chamber have pointedly refused to do so, in contravention of a guidance from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That guidance, in turn, was based on the advice of the attending physician of the U.S. Capitol.” data-reactid=”40″>House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also came out in favor of face coverings. “They should wear a mask,” he said, though most Republicans in his chamber have pointedly refused to do so, in contravention of a guidance from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That guidance, in turn, was based on the advice of the attending physician of the U.S. Capitol.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="At least some of these messages appear to be intended to get the attention of President Trump, who has turned the notion of wearing a mask into yet another of his cultural confrontations. Before touring an Arizona face mask factory in early May, the president mused that wearing a face covering was “politically correct.” It is not clear what he meant. He did not end up wearing a mask at the mask-making plant.” data-reactid=”41″>At least some of these messages appear to be intended to get the attention of President Trump, who has turned the notion of wearing a mask into yet another of his cultural confrontations. Before touring an Arizona face mask factory in early May, the president mused that wearing a face covering was “politically correct.” It is not clear what he meant. He did not end up wearing a mask at the mask-making plant.

But even some of Trump’s most committed fellow culture warriors have broken ranks with the president. On Monday night, Fox News host Sean Hannity, who serves as a kind of informal chief of staff to Trump and often capably articulates the grievances of the Trumpian base, came out in favor of masks.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“I went to my grocery store every week. Guess what? They wore masks. Nobody at my grocery store, thank God, got coronavirus,” Hannity said. “I think they work.” Studies of how viral particles travel through the air, and how different fabrics can stop those particles from traveling, confirm that assertion.” data-reactid=”43″>“I went to my grocery store every week. Guess what? They wore masks. Nobody at my grocery store, thank God, got coronavirus,” Hannity said. “I think they work.” Studies of how viral particles travel through the air, and how different fabrics can stop those particles from traveling, confirm that assertion.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“Fox &amp; Friends” co-host Steve Doocy also came out in favor of masks on Tuesday. “I think that if the president wore one, it would just set a good example,” he said. “He’d be a good role model.”” data-reactid=”44″>“Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy also came out in favor of masks on Tuesday. “I think that if the president wore one, it would just set a good example,” he said. “He’d be a good role model.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The new attention on masks comes ahead of the Independence Day weekend, when people are likely to gather in large groups across the nation for celebrations. That could only exacerbate the rate of transmission. In some states, including California, infection spikes appear to have begun during the long Memorial Day weekend in late May.” data-reactid=”45″>The new attention on masks comes ahead of the Independence Day weekend, when people are likely to gather in large groups across the nation for celebrations. That could only exacerbate the rate of transmission. In some states, including California, infection spikes appear to have begun during the long Memorial Day weekend in late May.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In recent days, the virus has shifted from the Northeast, where it took root in March and April, to states like Florida, Arizona and Texas, where governors close to President Trump bucked public health advice and lifted lockdown measures in early May. Critics have said they did so recklessly, pointing to the thousands of new infections those states are now registering daily.” data-reactid=”46″>In recent days, the virus has shifted from the Northeast, where it took root in March and April, to states like Florida, Arizona and Texas, where governors close to President Trump bucked public health advice and lifted lockdown measures in early May. Critics have said they did so recklessly, pointing to the thousands of new infections those states are now registering daily.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="
Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s director of emergency preparedness, issued seemingly unambiguous advice in a widely shared Tweet on Tuesday morning that simply had the word “masks,” in all caps, repeated more than 40 times.” data-reactid=”49″>
Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s director of emergency preparedness, issued seemingly unambiguous advice in a widely shared Tweet on Tuesday morning that simply had the word “masks,” in all caps, repeated more than 40 times.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="At the same time, it’s not clear that message will have any impact on Gov. Ron DeSantis, an acolyte of Trump who has followed the president’s lead. DeSantis has resisted a statewide mask order, even as other Republican governors are abandoning similar skepticism about protective coverings.” data-reactid=”52″>At the same time, it’s not clear that message will have any impact on Gov. Ron DeSantis, an acolyte of Trump who has followed the president’s lead. DeSantis has resisted a statewide mask order, even as other Republican governors are abandoning similar skepticism about protective coverings.

DeSantis is one of a shrinking number of holdouts, however.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“Arm yourself with a mask,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said on Monday. And when Vice President Mike Pence visited Texas on Sunday for a religious service, he and Gov. Greg Abbott were pictured wearing face masks for at least part of their time together.” data-reactid=”54″>“Arm yourself with a mask,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said on Monday. And when Vice President Mike Pence visited Texas on Sunday for a religious service, he and Gov. Greg Abbott were pictured wearing face masks for at least part of their time together.

Vice President Mike Pence adjusts his mask as he and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott prepare to depart a news conference after Pence met with Abbott and members of his healthcare team regarding COVID-19 at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center West Campus in Dallas, Sunday, June 28, 2020. (Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo)Vice President Mike Pence adjusts his mask as he and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott prepare to depart a news conference after Pence met with Abbott and members of his healthcare team regarding COVID-19 at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center West Campus in Dallas, Sunday, June 28, 2020. (Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo)
Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in Dallas on Sunday. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

The mask controversy has inevitably found its way to Capitol Hill, where supporters of the president, particularly in the more freewheeling House of Representatives, have steadfastly refused to wear face coverings. That has set up a confrontation with Democratic leadership, not to mention with senior Republicans such as McCarthy.

On Monday, a member of the Democratic leadership in the House, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., issued a blunt warning to his Republican colleagues, informing them that they would not be permitted to attend in-person hearings unless they donned protective face coverings.

“Masks save lives,” Clyburn wrote in his letter, which was addressed to Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who sits on the coronavirus subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee (Clyburn is the subcommittee’s chair). The letter went on to say that legislators “who do not wish to wear a mask are welcome to participate remotely” but will not be allowed inside the congressional hearing room. 

Clyburn is the Democrats’ “whip” in the House, meaning that he is charged with the crucial task of keeping the party in line ahead of significant votes (Scalise has the same position in the GOP). The coronavirus subcommittee was created by Pelosi to monitor the federal response to the pandemic.

Speaking to Yahoo News several hours after that letter was issued, the senior Democrat said that he was disappointed in Republicans’ refusal to recognize basic scientific tenets. “To me, it shows disrespect and ill manners,” Clyburn said.

Clyburn told Yahoo News that the subcommittee will next convene on Thursday. Legislators who decline to wear a mask, he warned, should probably check their internet connections. “The only people that will be allowed to participate in person will be the people wearing a mask,” Clyburn said. “So if you aren’t going to wear a mask, then I will strongly advise you to stay in your office.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Participating in a hearing from a home or congressional office may earn legislators a valuable mention from Rate My Room, the Twitter account that offers sometimes harsh and frequently humorous judgments of home office environments captured by computer cameras on virtual calls.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”72″>Participating in a hearing from a home or congressional office may earn legislators a valuable mention from Rate My Room, the Twitter account that offers sometimes harsh and frequently humorous judgments of home office environments captured by computer cameras on virtual calls. 

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina and chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, speaks while wearing a protective mask during a hearing on recommendations to improve the federal response to Covid-19 in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, June 26, 2020. (Cheriss May/Bloomberg via Getty Images)House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina and chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, speaks while wearing a protective mask during a hearing on recommendations to improve the federal response to Covid-19 in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, June 26, 2020. (Cheriss May/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
House Majority Whip James Clyburn on Friday in Washington. (Cheriss May/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

At a hearing Friday, Clyburn wore a red-and-black face mask supporting statehood for Washington, D.C., as did Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, who like Maloney represents a part of New York City, wore a patterned face mask. Other Democrats wore plain light blue masks or white N95 respirators. 

Republicans on the subcommittee wore no face coverings.

House Republicans’ resistance to masks has led to frustration in hearing rooms where, even without the usual presence of journalists, congressional aides and members of the public, social distancing may be difficult to accomplish. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Clyburn confronted a GOP coronavirus subcommittee member, Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., during the Friday hearing, which was supposed to focus on a Government Accountability Office report on shortfalls in the Trump administration’s coronavirus relief efforts.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”87″>Clyburn confronted a GOP coronavirus subcommittee member, Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., during the Friday hearing, which was supposed to focus on a Government Accountability Office report on shortfalls in the Trump administration’s coronavirus relief efforts. 

Green used some of his time to denounce the mask guidance that had been prescribed by the congressional physician, as well as by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A medical doctor by training, Green said that his mask intransigence was based on scientific studies.

“I keep hearing about these studies,” Clyburn said. “He must be getting his information from the White House.” 

Green’s congressional office did not respond to requests for comment from Yahoo News. Scalise’s office would not comment on the matter either. The subcommittee also includes Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress. Speaking on Fox News in mid-May, Jordan said that the subcommittee was “designed to go after the president.”

Clyburn’s office said that as of Tuesday morning, there had still been no reply to his letter.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="_____” data-reactid=”94″>_____

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more from Yahoo News:” data-reactid=”95″>Read more from Yahoo News:

You may be interested

Nigerian police rescue Kano man locked up in his parents' garage
Entertainment
23 views
Entertainment
23 views

Nigerian police rescue Kano man locked up in his parents' garage

Webby - August 14, 2020

A Nigerian man has been rescued from the garage of his parents' house in the northern city of Kano, where he had been locked up for three…

Entertainment
21 views

Trump and his allies got a win. Palestinians had their isolation writ large.

Webby - August 14, 2020

With friends like these, who needs enemies?Many Palestinians will be reciting a version of this adage on Friday, a day after the United Arab Emirates said it…

US economist proposes $12 trillion in slavery reparations to eliminate black-white wealth gap
Entertainment
25 views
Entertainment
25 views

US economist proposes $12 trillion in slavery reparations to eliminate black-white wealth gap

Webby - August 14, 2020

EPAA renowned economist has said that $12 trillion should be afforded to black Americans in reparation for slavery to help the close wealth gap.Duke University professor, William…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Most from this category