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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

Go deeper

Oct 7, 2020 - Health

The cost of Washington's coronavirus failures

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump’s cavalier attitude toward the coronavirus is already making the pandemic worse in his own backyard, and the failure to reach a deal on a new round of stimulus will likely make it worse all across the country, for months.

Why it matters: Heading into the winter months without a new round of stimulus in place will leave vulnerable workers without a financial safety net if they get sick — and because of that, experts say, it will likely make the pandemic itself worse.

White House outlines health guidelines following Trump's return

Marine One carrying President Trump back to the White House on Oct. 5. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

The White House said Tuesday it has had "hospital-grade disinfection policies" since March, as it outlined the residence's health and safety precautions in a new memo that follows President Trump's return from Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday.

Why it matters: The memo comes amid a botched response to the cluster of cases within the White House, which jeopardized the health of the president and his staff and set a poor example in a country that's already done a terrible job handling the virus, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.

Updated Oct 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trumpworld coronavirus tracker

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

An outbreak of COVID-19 has struck the White House — including the president himself — just weeks before the 2020 election.

Why it matters: If the president can get infected, anyone can. And the scramble to figure out the scope of this outbreak is a high-profile, high-stakes microcosm of America's larger failures to contain the virus and to stand up a contact-tracing system that can respond to new cases before they have a chance to become outbreaks.