06.30.20

Chairman Alexander: “Stakes are Too High” for Pro-Trump, Anti-Trump Mask Debate to Continue

Says if the president would wear a mask occasionally, millions of admirers would follow his lead

“Unfortunately, this simple lifesaving practice has become part of a political debate that says: If you're for Trump, you don't wear a mask. If you're against Trump, you do. But the administration’s four health experts testifying today have said: ‘If you want to be able to go back to school, back to work and out to eat: wear a mask.’ The University of Tennessee’s Athletic Director, Phillip Fulmer, has told us, ‘If you really, really want sports, football, and all those things, then wear a mask and keep social distancing.’” — Senator Lamar Alexander

 

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2020 — Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said “the stakes are too high,” for the political debate around wearing masks to continue.

 

“Unfortunately this simple lifesaving practice has become part of a political debate that says: If you're for Trump, you don't wear a mask. If you're against Trump, you do,” Alexander said. “That is why I have suggested the president should occasionally wear a mask even though there are not many occasions when it is necessary for him to do so. The president has millions of admirers. They would follow his lead.”

 

“If you want college football to return this fall, like I do, listen to the words of the University of Tennessee’s Athletic Director, Phillip Fulmer who told fans how they can help make that happen: ‘If you really, really want sports, football, and all those things, then wear a mask and keep social distancing.’”

 

“The United States is in the middle of a very concerning rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many states, and the experts in front of us today have told us that washing our hands, staying apart and wearing a mask are three of the most important ways to slow the spread of the virus.”

 

Chairman Alexander made his remarks today during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee hearing, “COVID-19: Update on Progress Toward Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School,” featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, Admiral Brett Giroir of HHS, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

 

Alexander said that while states are continuing to take action to help keep people safe, “nothing was more disruptive to American life, and nothing would head it back toward normalcy,” than for our 135,000 public and private K-12 schools and 6,000 colleges to reopen safely this Fall.

 

“Among the casualties of COVID-19 are the 75 million students who were sent home from schools and colleges in March. Add to the casualties the teachers who weren’t prepared to teach remotely and the working parents who suddenly had school children at home and who weren’t prepared to home school,” Alexander continued.

 

“Being sent home from school does not rank with the sickness and death the virus has caused… The question before the country today is not about whether to go back to school or college or child care or work, but how to do it safely. Even though COVID-19 has not, in general, hurt young children and college-age students nearly as much as older or more vulnerable Americans, there is some health risk.  But in my view the greater risk is not going back to school.”

 

Read Chairman Alexander’s opening statement here.