After GOP Reps Keep Refusing To Wear Masks, Pelosi Enacts New Rule Requiring It
Some Republican members of Congress are refusing to wear face masks, even as their colleagues continue to be diagnosed with the coronavirus. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has had enough of their recalcitrance, passing a new rule mandating masks for congressional committee meetings.
Multiple studies have shown that wearing masks, while unable to perfectly prevent all cases of transmission of the virus, help reduce the risk in multiple ways, perhaps most importantly by both preventing exposure to the virus in some cases and by reducing the level of exposure if it does happen. One single coronavirus cell is not enough to make someone ill; it’s a matter of exposure within a period of time of a quantity of the virus sufficient to overwhelm the immune system. Some studies have shown additional benefits from behavior modifications that are encouraged by wearing masks, such as increased consciousness about touching one’s face and being reminded to maintain social distancing.
White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci has explained his own support for wearing masks, noting the reduction in risk.
“I wear it for the reason that I believe it is effective,” said Fauci. “It is not 100 percent effective—I mean, it’s sort of respect for the other person and have that other person respect you. You wear a mask. They wear a mask. You protect each other.”
Still, multiple Republicans have openly refused to wear masks — most notably President Donald Trump. Several Republican members of Congress have been observed not wearing them or wearing them only sporadically, including Reps. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Clay Higgins (R-LA).
Just this Monday, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), announced on Twitter that he, his wife, and his son had been diagnosed with the coronavirus — only two weeks after he was photographed on the House floor not wearing a mask. At that time, CNN reporter Manu Raju had asked Rice about not wearing a mask, and he had replied that he didn’t think it was necessary, because he was able to keep six feet away from everyone. Rice reported that his son had “a high fever and really bad cough,” and described his own symptoms as more mild, but complained that he had “completely lost sense of taste and smell.”
On Tuesday, Brian Monahan, the attending physician for Congress, issued new guidelines requiring masks for anyone meeting “in a limited enclosed space, such as a committee hearing room, for greater than 15 minutes.” Pelosi, pointing to Monahan’s guidelines, told the House committee chairs to require masks at all committee meetings and hearings starting Wednesday.
Pelosi also directed the sergeant-at-arms to enforce the rules — noncompliant members who refuse to mask up will be barred from entry, but they will have the option of participating remotely.
This new rule does not yet require masks in other areas of the Capitol, including on the House floor.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]