Republicans are warily eyeing the resurgence of coronavirus cases in states critical to President Trump’s reelection in November, as much rides on the country’s ability to continue economic reopening without worsening the pandemic.
The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has led to some Republican governors aligned with Trump reinstating some, though not all, of the restrictions that were in place during the lockdowns and federal GOP officials expressing more support for wearing facial coverings in public.
Vice President Mike Pence has resumed a busier public schedule for the coronavirus task force, which held its first briefing in two months on Friday to help allay growing concerns. “Our focus today is very much on the advent of a rising series of new cases across the American South,” Pence said, addressing must-win states for the ticket this fall. Pence donned a mask in Texas on Sunday.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, on Tuesday repeated his call for the president to start doing the same. “The president has plenty of admirers,” he said. “They would follow his lead. It would help end this political debate. The stakes are too high for this political debate … to continue.” On Sunday, Alexander told CNN, “I’m just saying, if wearing masks is important, and all the health experts tell us that it is in containing the disease in 2020, it would help if, from time to time, the president would wear one to help us get rid of this political debate that says if you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask, and if you’re against Trump, you do.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed face masks on Monday, saying there should be “no stigma” attached to them.