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Politicians Have Different Opinions About Wearing Masks in Public

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By Robin Zabiegalski

Last week, the CDC announced its new recommendation that all Americans should wear masks when they're in public. They stated that because people can spread the virus before they're symptomatic and because 25% of people who are carriers will not develop symptoms, wearing a mask in public is the best way to prevent spreading coronavirus.

President Trump affirmed this recommendation during his coronavirus press briefing. But he also stressed that wearing face masks in public was voluntary.

High-profile politicians, including President Trump and Joe Biden, have very different opinions about the recommendations.

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President Trump Says He Won't Wear a Mask

President Trump briefing on the coronavirus
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Though President Trump repeated the CDC's recommendations, he didn't seem on board with the recommendation. After stressing that wearing masks was voluntary and that people didn't have to do it, the President said he probably wouldn't be following the recommendation himself.

President Trump continued saying that he wouldn't feel comfortable wearing a mask in meetings with "presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens." He continued, "I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself."

The President has been accused of sending mixed messages about the CDC's recommendations for coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Joe Biden Confirms He Will Wear a Mask

Joe Biden
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Biden's approach to the CDC's recommendations around coronavirus has been completely opposite of President Trump's approach. Biden has been a champion of following the CDC recommendations to the letter and heeding the advice of doctors and scientists.

In line with this approach, Biden announced that he would be wearing a mask every time he's in public.

He said, “It’s important to follow the science. Listen to the experts. Do what they tell you. So if I go out in public — and I haven't gone to commercial places of late, I haven't gone to my local church, etc. ... My generic point is, you should follow the science.“

Governor Cuomo Says 'It Couldn't Hurt'

Governor Andrew Cuomo
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New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has become an authoritative voice in the conversation about the coronavirus pandemic. His response to the pandemic in his state, which has the most cases in the country, has been widely praised.

After the CDC made its recommendation about wearing masks, Governor Cuomo told New Yorkers, “It couldn’t hurt from a public-health point of view.” He added, "Unless the fabric has a certain density, the virus will get through. It couldn’t hurt unless it gives the person a false sense of security.”

Do Their Opinions Matter?

President Donald Trump briefing on coronavirus
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Politicians have a lot of influence over the American public. What they say about public health can convince people to follow or not follow the CDC's recommendations. Because of that, it's problematic that highly visible political voices in the coronavirus conversation have such different opinions about the CDC's recommendations.

Many are concerned that President Trump's mixed messages about wearing masks in public will encourage people not to wear masks just because they don't want to. Cuomo also has a lot of influence in this conversation, and while he affirmed the recommendation, he didn't do so enthusiastically.

As leaders of the country, these politicians have an obligation to protect the public health, so the messages they're sending about the CDC's recommendations do matter, a lot.

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