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"

Go deeper

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: "Please wear a mask to save lives"

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, posed in masks in a photo shared by the Carter Center on Saturday, pleading with Americans to "please wear a mask to save lives."

Why it matters: Face masks have morphed into a political issue, in part due to President Trump's reluctance to wear the coverings in public. Carter's announcement comes as dozens of states and municipalities are issuing face-mask mandates and rolling back their reopenings amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

Updated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 12,772,755 — Total deaths: 566,036 — Total recoveries — 7,030,749Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 3,269,531 — Total deaths: 134,898 — Total recoveries: 995,576 — Total tested: 39,553,395Map.
  3. Politics: Trump wears face mask in public for first time.
  4. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000.
  5. Public health: Trump's coronavirus testing czar says lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table" — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  6. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."
56 mins ago - Health

Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases

Data: Covid Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

Florida reported 15,299 confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday — a new single-day record for any state, according to its health department.

The big picture: The figure shatters both Florida's previous record of 11,458 new cases and the single-state record of 11,694 set by California last week, according to AP. It also surpasses New York's daily peak of 11,571 new cases in April, and comes just a day after Disney World reopened in Orlando.