While Trump holds back, states and cities push masks to fight virus

With President Donald Trump making it clear that he was not going to lead the nation in urging Americans to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, that vacuum is now being filled by other officials around the nation, in an effort to find some way to stem the recent increase in virus cases.

"Wearing a mask is not only safe, but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown," Gov. Laura Kelly (D) of Kansas announced on Monday.

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown (D) expanded a mask requirement in public and indoor areas of businesses from eight counties to the entire state.

"The choices every single one of us make in the coming days matter," Brown said, as Oregon and Kansas joined North Carolina in instituting a statewide mask requirement.

Back on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell drove home the same request, saying on the Senate floor that Americans should wear a mask as a way to help businesses stay open.

"Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we encounter," McConnell said forcefully.

McConnell's very public declaration in the halls of Congress left him at odds with Republicans in the House, many of whom have publicly clashed with Democrats about the need to wear masks at hearings, and on the floor of the House.

Last week, Democrats sparred with Republicans at times about the lack of a mask, with one saying Monday that GOP lawmakers would be barred from hearings in the future, if they chose not to show up with a mask.

"I will not recognize any Member of this Subcommittee to participate in person in any Subcommittee meeting or hearing unless the Member is wearing a mask and strictly adheres to the Attending Physician’s guidance," said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

At the White House, the reaction to a decision by the city of Jacksonville to require masks indoors - where President Trump will accept the GOP nomination at an indoor arena in August - drew a muted response.

"He did say to me, he has no problem with masks, and do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you," said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The decision of the city of Jacksonville to require masks was ironic, given that President Trump had sought out a new location for his speech, after the Governor of North Carolina had refused to guarantee the GOP convention could go on with a minimum of Coronavirus restrictions in place.

Through the day on Monday, news from various cities, towns and counties around the nation filtered in with decisions to enact mask requirements - in Florida, South Carolina, and other states.

"If we want to keep businesses open, we need a statewide mask requirement," Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) said, as Democrats pressed reluctant GOP Governors.

While Republican Governors were shying away from a statewide mask requirement - some were openly pushing their state's residents to embrace the idea.

"I’m certainly not imposing new restrictions right now," Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Georgia) said in recent days. "We’ve got to continue to fight the fight hard everyday."





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