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Former Washington Journalist
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Conservatives and Republicans have been wrong to frame the issue of wearing face masks as one of “freedom,” when it’s more properly one of public safety, according to a former Republican congressman.
While leading public health professionals like Dr Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and others have long recommended wearing face masks to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, Donald Trump and others on the right have stigmatized the wearing of masks.
Meanwhile, the spread of the virus–and related deaths–are rising unabated.
More than 2.8 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States, including about 130,000 deaths.
“But I would suggest instead of looking through a partisan lens, Democrats and Republicans, we look at it through a constitutional lens and a cultural lens. And constitutionally, this is more than just a liberty issue. It’s also a public safety issue,” said David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida, which today is one of the hotspots for the pandemic. “To the doctor’s points, it is a legitimate purpose of the government to protect both liberty and public safety. We do it vehicle use, we do it with code enforcement for electricians and public health, we can do it when it comes to masks.
“Culturally I would say this confirms I think people’s worst concerns and fears about American culture, the selfishness, the self-centeredness, the short-mindedness,” he added. “And Donald Trump likes to play into this cool man attitude, that it’s cool not to wear a mask. Not wearing a mask doesn’t make you cool, it makes you a carrier. It’s disgusting, and it’s irresponsible. And you should stop it.”
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