Jun 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate health chairman urges Trump to wear mask to end political debate

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, urged President Trump on CNN Sunday to wear a face mask "when it's appropriate" to help end the political debate over wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Studies show that wearing masks can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but efforts to encourage mask wearing have been complicated by political partisanship and distrust in public health advice.

  • Nationally, the percentage of Democrats who reported wearing a mask all the time when leaving home rose from 49% between April 10 and May 4 to 65% between May 8 and June 22, according to months of Axios-Ipsos coronavirus polls.
  • During the same time period, the percentage of Republicans who reported constant mask wearing rose from 29% to just 35%.

What he's saying: "I wish the president would wear a mask when it's appropriate because millions of Americans admire him, and they would follow his lead," the retiring 79-year-old Republican senator said on "Inside Politics."

  • "His experts have told all of us that wearing a mask, social distance and washing your hands is the way we can contain the disease so we can go back to school and back to work."
  • "It also would help to get rid of this political debate, that if you're for President Trump you don't wear a mask and if you're against President Trump you do wear a mask. The stakes are much too high for that."

The big picture: The United States reported a massive surge in coronavirus cases over the weekend, with more than 45,000 new cases reported on June 26 alone, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Go deeper: Trump says he declined to wear a mask to avoid giving the "press the pleasure"

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