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

Sep 18, 2020 - Health

CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people

CDC director Robert Redfield testifies at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Sept. 16. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its previously revised guidance for coronavirus testing on Friday to say that testing asymptomatic people who were exposed to COVID-19 is recommended for treatment and contact tracing.

Why it matters: The CDC's modification in August to recommend against testing for asymptomatic people was not written by scientists and posted despite their "serious objections," New York Times first reported. CNN confirmed that the agency's update was published outside the agency's "normal review process."

Sep 18, 2020 - Health

Rep. Khanna: COVID-19 could change the perception of public health care

Rep. Khanna and Axios' Margaret Talev

The universal experience of COVID-19 could change how opponents view Medicare for All, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said at an Axios virtual event on Friday.

What they're saying: "The pandemic has reminded us of our shared humanity with other American citizens. It's no longer possible to think, 'Oh, we're not part of those who get sick.' Now almost everyone knows, unfortunately, someone who has been hospitalized, someone who had a serious bout with COVID," Khanna said.

Rep. Brooks: We need to better prepare for pandemics

Axios' Margaret Talev (L) and Rep. Susan Brooks (R). Photo: Axios

Insufficient stockpiles and a lack of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a warning for America on future preparedness, Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) said at an Axios virtual event on Friday.

What they're saying: "Congress had been beefing up for years — the appropriations for preparedness — it certainly was not enough, and we recognize that," Brooks said.