No National Mandate to Wear Masks, Governors, Mayors Can Decide: Mark Meadows

By Venus Upadhayaya
Venus Upadhayaya
Venus Upadhayaya
Venus Upadhayaya reports on wide range of issues. Her area of expertise is in Indian and South Asian geopolitics. She has reported from the very volatile India-Pakistan border and has contributed to mainstream print media in India for about a decade. Community media, sustainable development, and leadership remain her key areas of interest.
July 6, 2020Updated: July 7, 2020

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said there’s no national mandate on wearing masks, as it is a matter for states to decide.

“Well, it’s certainly a state-to-state issue, as we look across the country, obviously the narrative is the COVID cases are rising, but testing is rising exponentially. We’ve now tested almost 10 percent of our country,” Meadows said during an interview with “Fox & Friends” on July 6.

States have experienced a surge in the cases of infection in the past few weeks, after reopening. On July 5, Florida surpassed 200,000 CCP virus or COVID-19 cases, and on July 4 it recorded the highest number on a single day, 11,458 cases, surpassing the record 11,434 cases in New York in mid-April.

Cases of infection were on the rise overall in 34 states over the past week, with 12 states recording an increase of more than 50 percent, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Three states—Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Vermont—are reporting a decline in cases.

Nearly half of the states have halted their reopening plans amid the surge, and a growing number of them have mandated the use of masks and face coverings while in public.

Guests adjusting their masks
Guests adjusting their masks stand next to mannequins populating the dining room of The Inn at Little Washington, one of the country’s most renowned restaurants, on the first day of Virginia’s phase one reopening in Washington, Va., on May 29, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

The states with mandatory use of masks are California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, and Washington.

“And yet when we look at masks and the wearing of masks, that’s done on a location basis, when you can’t have social distancing, but certainly a national mandate is not in order,” said Meadows. “We’re allowing governors and mayors to weigh in on that.”

Some mayors have already passed ordinances requiring strict adherence to wearing masks—in mid-June, the city of Memphis in Tennessee passed an ordinance requiring its people to wear masks inside essential and nonessential businesses including restaurants and bars. The city council made the decision after 450 people were found to be infected with the CCP virus in 48 hours, according to WMC5 Action News.

Around the same time, as the cases of infection surged in Texas, nine mayors in the state wrote an open letter to the residents, urging them to wear masks.

“We’re not here to scare you. We’re not playing games or politics. The virus is here. Infections are rising. Hospital capacity is filling up,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg while sharing the letter on Twitter.

“We are not asking you to stay home, but we are asking you to mask up and social distance where possible.”

President Donald Trump said on July 1 that he doesn’t believe making masks mandatory across the country is important, but also said he is “all for masks” and “thinks masks are good.”

A study by a team of researchers in Texas and California that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America on June 30 said that wearing a mask is the most effective way to stop person-to-person transmission of the CCP virus.

The study found that wearing masks prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy between April 6 and May 9 and more than 66,000 infections in New York City between April 17 and May 9.

“Our analysis reveals that the difference with and without mandated face covering represents the determinant in shaping the pandemic trends in the three epicenters,” the study stated, which had also analyzed cases in Wuhan.

CNN Newswire contributed to this report.