Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander pleaded with President Donald Trump Tuesday to wear a mask in public to encourage his MAGA-followers – as the nation’s top health officials embraced a call for distribution of free masks to encourage their use.
‘The president has plenty of admirers,’ Alexander, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, noted at the top of a hearing Tuesday.
The former Education Secretary then predicted: ‘They would follow his lead, it would help end this political debate. The stakes are too high for this political debate about pro-Trump, anti-Trump to continue.’
‘There’s no doubt that wearing masks protects you and gets you to be protected,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases
‘The stakes are too high for the political debate about pro-Trump, anti-Trump masks to continue,’ Alexander said. He had to go into quarantine after coming in contact with an aide who tested positive for the virus, but says he was protected by the staffer wearing a mask.
Alexander’s urging came as Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed during testimony with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ suggestion that the government provide masks to the public free of charge.
‘Anything that furthers the use of masks whether it’s giving out free masks or any other mechanism I am thoroughly in favor of,’ Fauci told Sanders, a democratic socialist who failed to beat back former Vice President Joe Biden in the battle for the Democratic nomination.
Fauci called masks ‘extremely important,’ saying they protect both the person wearing it and those they might come in contact with.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders quizzed health experts on the idea of having the government distribute masks to every U.S. household
Dr. Robert Redfield called for ‘universal’ masks
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said if President Trump wore a mask his fans would follow him
‘There’s no doubt that wearing masks protects you and gets you to be protected,’ he said.
Fauci had asked him: ‘Would you support an effort to greatly increase the production of high quality masks’ and to ”distribute them free of charge to every household in America?’
Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Robert Redfield, also pressed by Sanders on the idea, responded that ‘universal masks’ are ‘fundamentally the most important thing we can do’ amid the ongoing spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Admiral Brett Giroir of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the assistant secretary of health, agreed. ‘Yes sir I agree that that is very important because we need to support mask wearing,’ he told Sanders.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this year and attended a luncheon with colleagues while awaiting results, swiped at Fauci for not unequivocally calling to reopen schools.
‘I don’t hear much certitude at all. I hear “maybe, it depends,”‘ Paul said.
Fauci that responded that it was a priority. In earlier comments, he said: ‘If you are in an area where you have a certain amount of infection dynamics, there are things that can creatively be done about modifying things like the school schedule., alternate days, morning versus evening, allowing them in certain circumstances online virtual lessons.’
Said Fauci: ‘Those are the kind of things that we need to consider but also importantly always make the goal that it is very important to get the children back to school for the unintended negative consequences that occur when we keep them out of school.’