Vice President Mike Pence on June 28 said people should follow guidance from state and local officials on wearing masks in public to curb transmission of the CCP virus as cases surge in parts of the United States.
During an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Pence pushed back against criticism that President Donald Trump has not encouraged wearing face masks, noting that the president had indicated that he will leave it to states to decide whether masks should be mandatory to protect against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the coronavirus.
The White House wishes to “defer to governors,” Pence said.
“One of the elements of the genius of America is the principle of federalism, of state and local control,” the vice president told guest host John Dickerson on June 28. “We’ve made it clear that we want to defer to governors. We want to defer to local officials, and people should listen to them.”
He remarked that “every state has a unique situation,” praising the American principle of federalism.
Pence added that the White House believes masks should be worn in public “wherever social distancing is not possible” and in situations where authorities deem it is necessary to do so. He added that he had worn a mask on “several occasions this week” and that Trump has worn a mask before.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended—not required—the use of masks. The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, updated its guidance on June 5 to recommend that governments urge people to wear fabric face masks in public.
Dickerson challenged the White House’s stance, saying that many believe the CCP virus pandemic is “a problem that requires a coordinated national result, which is what these outbreaks are showing.”
“The virus doesn’t know federalism,” he told Pence.
But the vice president rebutted, “If we’d have taken that approach, we’d have never had the success that we had in the greater New York City area. We’d have never had the success in Michigan or New Orleans because, from early on, we worked closely in partnership with governors to make sure that they had what they needed when they needed it, tailored to the unique circumstances in their states.”
Nearly half of those testing positive are Americans under the age of 35 and those that are requiring to be hospitalized is significantly lower than it was two months ago. pic.twitter.com/PS1rbe0NdX
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) June 28, 2020
Pence’s remarks clashed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who separately said on June 28 that there should be a nationwide mandate for the wearing of face coverings to ward against further spread of the CCP virus.
“Definitely long overdue for that,” Pelosi told ABC News on Sunday when asked about whether masks should be required.
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 125,000 Americans have died from the virus so far. The COVID Tracking Project noted on Saturday that in the past several weeks, “deaths have continued to fall, even as cases and hospitalizations spike across the South and West.”
About 500 people died from the CCP virus on June 26, the project reported.
An increasing number of U.S. states are requiring their residents to cover their faces when they visit essential businesses or use public transportation.
California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columnia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have made it mandatory to wear a mask.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.