Jun 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McConnell: "We must have no stigma about wearing masks"

Mitch McConnell

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a floor speech on Monday that Americans must have "no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people."

Why it matters: Results from months of Axios-Ipsos coronavirus polling revealed a stark partisan divide when it comes to wearing masks. In surveys conducted between May 8 and June 22, 65% of Democrats reported wearing a mask every time they leave home, compared to just 35% of Republicans.

  • Some opposition to masks is attributable to mixed messages at the start of the pandemic from public health officials who advised Americans against face masks in order to preserve them for front-line workers.
  • But President Trump and other top Republicans have also declined to wear masks in public and on the floors of the House and Senate, amplifying the perception that it's part of a culture war. Few supporters wore masks at Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last week.

Driving the news: Top Republicans are now taking a more aggressive position in favor of masks.

  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, specifically urged President Trump on CNN Sunday to wear a mask in order to "help to get rid of this political debate."
  • Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) have also asked the president to wear a mask, per Politico.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that there should be a national mask mandate, calling it "long overdue."

What he's saying: "Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter," McConnell said.

  • "The more we hate the pain and suffering that accompanied the strict stay-home guidelines a few months ago, the happier we should be to take responsible small steps every day to ensure our country can stay on offense against the virus."

Go deeper: Where the science stands on using face masks against coronavirus

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