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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) denounced the partisanship that has infiltrated the debate over face masks in the U.S., telling NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday: "This is not about politics. ... It's about helping other people."

Why it matters: Face masks have become a political symbol for some Americans in the brewing culture war over containing the coronavirus, AP reports. 76% of Democrats say they wear a mask when leaving home, compared to 59% of Republicans, according to a poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

What he's saying: "This is not about whether you're liberal or conservative," DeWine said. "Left or right. Republican, Democrat. ... It's been very clear what the studies have shown. You wear the mask, not to protect yourself so much as to protect others."

  • "This is one time when we truly are all in this together. What we do directly impacts others," he added.

Between the lines: DeWine, a Republican governor who has received praise for his aggressive early response to the coronavirus, has faced controversy himself over mandatory mask policy.

  • Earlier this month, he reversed a decision requiring face masks in Ohio stores, stating that it "became clear to [him] that that was just a bridge too far. People were not going to accept the government telling them what to do."
  • But DeWine maintained at the time that wearing masks while in public is the "kind thing" to do.

The big picture: While President Trump continues to refuse to wear a mask in public, his public health officials are urging Americans to do so as the country gathers to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.

  • Former Trump homeland security adviser Tom Bossert called it "common decency," while White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said Americans "must wear a mask" when unable to socially distance outside.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

White House coronavirus reports contradict public statements by Trump officials

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senior Trump administration officials privately warned several states that spikes in coronavirus cases put them in high-risk "red zones" while publicly downplaying the threat of the virus, according to documents released by a special House committee overseeing the coronavirus response.

Why it matters: Democrats have long called for a national plan to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, while the White House has offered only guidance and insisted that states take the lead.

Axios-Ipsos poll: People of color face more environmental threats

Expand chart
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±2.5% margin of error; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Americans of color are much less likely than white Americans to experience good air quality or tap water or enough trees or green space in their communities, and they're more likely to face noise pollution and litter, a new Axios-Ipsos poll finds.

The big picture: Our national survey shows Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than their white counterparts to live near major highways or industrial or manufacturing plants — and to have dealt in the past year with water-boil notices or power outages lasting more than 24 hours.