GOP Rep Complains About ‘Cult of Masks’ as CDC Director Explains How Super-Important Masks Are


Republican Maryland Congressman Andy Harris bitterly complained about a “cult of masks” during a House hearing, as CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield proceeded to explain how and why wearing masks is crucial to reducing spread of the coronavirus.

The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing Thursday to question Dr. Redfield about his agency’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and masks were a hot topic.

Rep. Harris used most of his time to complain that his state’s governor has only opened restaurants for outdoor dining, whereas the CDC guidelines don’t make a distinction between those settings.

But he concluded his questioning by telling Redfield “I do have a question about masks because, you know, there is now a cult of masks. That’s what I’ll refer to it as, because you know, we get criticized, oh my gosh, I’m afraid to get a picture taken of me without a mask somewhere because someone will say ‘Well how can you possibly, you’re a doctor, how can you not wear a mask?'”

“But in fact, we don’t know a whole lot about whether or not a mask is better or worse than a cloth face covering or is better or worse than a face shield,” he added, seconds before Redfield would tell him that “Clearly there is science behind” the wearing of face coverings.

Harris’ question was about CDC restaurant reopening guidelines, and why they recommend cloth masks and specifically recommend against surgical masks — “and face shields aren’t even mentioned in the guidance.”

In his question, he wondered “Is it just that we want to reserve surgical masks for other situations?”

Redfield informed him that yes, “you hit the answer yourself, is the real issue is to preserve the medical surgical masks for the medical surgical first responder community. That’s the intent there, not that there’s any evidence it’s one better than the other.”

“That’s what I imagined, and again, getting it back to science, because there’s a lot of critique when first people were told don’t wear a face mask and then they were told we’re face mask we have a big discussion you know is it surgical mask face mask facial-shield, what is it. “And the bottom line is you should protect the other person that you are coming near in case you are an asymptomatic or presymptomatic carrier,” Harris said.

Redfield agreed, meaning the point of Harris’ question appears to have been to call following guidelines to protect public health a “cult.”

President Donald Trump has steadfastly refused to wear a mask in public, a fact that also came up minutes later during the hearing. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard asked Redfield some followup questions about masks, and Redfield expressed the importance of face-coverings in great detail.

He also remarked at length that “We are very concerned that our public health message isn’t resonating,” and that “We continue to try to find figure out how to penetrate the message with different groups.”

Dr. Redfield noted there are differing “cultural approach(es)” to masks,” and added that “These social distancing strategies that we’ve learned are something we need to perfect because we’re going to need them to be our major defense again in October, November, and December.:

“Well I hope that you can start with convincing our president to be a champion of advocating for masks to prevent the further spread of the virus,” Rep. Roybal-Allard said.

Redfield responded by expressionlessly taking a sip of water.

Watch the clip above via C-Span.

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