Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday encouraged people living in areas with coronavirus outbreaks to wear masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
At a news conference alongside Texas and Trump administration officials at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Pence plainly called on Americans to “wear a mask, wherever it’s indicated.”
“We encourage everyone to wear a mask in the affected areas,” Pence said. “Where you can’t maintain social distancing, wearing a mask is just a good idea, especially young people.”
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson also said at the news conference that widespread mask-wearing would allow for people to regain freedoms more quickly.
Pence, who donned a mask earlier Sunday, visited Texas as it is experiencing a significant surge in cases and as the U.S. set a single-day record for new coronavirus cases, with reports of about 46,000 on Friday. The total was driven by more than 8,000 new cases in Florida and thousands more in Arizona, California and Texas, according to an NBC News tally.
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More than 125,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S.
Pence had postponed some appearances that were planned in Arizona and Florida this week “out of an abundance of caution” because of virus spikes, a Trump campaign official said. Pence is still expected to travel to those states to meet with local officials.
In an interview earlier on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Pence said the administration believes people should wear masks wherever it’s called for by state or local authorities.
“We have to act, and people and individuals need to act responsibly,” he said. “We need to social distance. We need to wear face coverings if we are in settings where we cannot social distance, particularly in these hot zones.”
President Donald Trump has generally refused to wear a mask in public settings, although he did wear one during a private tour of a Ford plant in Michigan weeks ago.
The Trump administration’s waffling on face coverings has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle.
“The president should be an example. You know, real men wear masks,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “Be an example to the country and wear the mask. … It’s not about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting others and their families.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said on “Face the Nation”: “Right now, we are in an urgent national mission, or should be, to mask up. And the fact is that Donald Trump is for masking up like George Wallace was for integration.”
Speaking Thursday with KDKA-TV of Pittsburgh, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said, “The one thing we do know, these masks make a gigantic difference.”
“I would insist that everybody in public be wearing that mask,” he said.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., tweeted a photo of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, on Friday wearing a cowboy hat and a mask with the caption “Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK. #realmenwearmasks.”