US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that wearing a mask cannot be stigmatized, calling for facial masks in public amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We must have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people,” McConnell said from the Senate floor on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter,” he added.
He said that until there is a vaccine Americans needed to find a “middle ground” with “new routines, new rhythms and new strategies” between widespread lockdowns and life pre-coronavirus, wearing a mask is part of it.
The top Senate Republican’s remarks came after a number of Republican senators have suggested President Donald Trump to promote wearing masks or wear a mask himself when appropriate.
Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told CNN on Sunday that if Trump wore a mask in public it would encourage his supporters to also wear masks so as to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said last week that he would “prefer” that Trump wore a mask “because people would follow” his example, according to a report from The Hill.
Vice President Mike Pence said on CBS News on Sunday that the White House was trying to defer to governors and other local officials on wearing a mask.
Also on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a federal mandate to wear masks in public was “long overdue” and faulted the president for not setting an example by wearing one in public himself.
Trump has been under growing pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to set an example for the country by wearing a face mask amid the current surge of the number of US coronavirus cases, local analysts observed.