Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) vowed Thursday to push individual states toward adopting a mask mandate by introducing a legislative amendment in the Senate to prohibit states without mask requirements from receiving federal coronavirus relief in the next round of funding.
“Research shows that masks reduce transmission of the coronavirus,” said the California senator. “CDC Director Redfield said this surge in COVID-19 cases could end within two months if we adopt ‘universal masking.’ Businesses like Walmart, Kohl’s, and Kroger now require masks. And countries that are successfully controlling this virus require masks. So why doesn’t the United States have a national mask mandate?’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters on Wednesday that the Senate will work toward another round of coronavirus relief, and it will contain a “heavy emphasis” on education, an endeavor he admitted would be costly, reports NBC News.
This pandemic relief legislation, it would seem, would be the vehicle to which Feinstein might attach a mask-mandate amendment.
“The situation is getting worse daily. Several states including California, Alabama, and Montana already require masks in public. This should be universal,” said Feinstein. “My hope has been that other governors would show the leadership to institute their own mask mandates, but so far that hasn’t happened. It’s time for Congress to step in. This is a matter of life or death, and partisan politics shouldn’t play a role.”
Wearing masks in public should be mandatory. When the Senate takes up the next coronavirus economic relief bill later this month, I intend to offer an amendment to prohibit sending funds to states that haven’t adopted a statewide mask requirement. https://t.co/DvwiVr02Vo pic.twitter.com/2uqFyNAUL4
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) July 16, 2020
Last month, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told KDKA-2 that he would be willing to enforce a national mask mandate through executive order should he be elected president in November.
“The one thing we do know is these masks make a gigantic difference. I would insist that everybody out in public be wearing that mask. Anyone to reopen would have to make sure that they walked into a business that had masks,” said Biden.
Throughout the country, countless local and state government have vocally pushed for the adoption of face coverings — some on a mandatory basis, and others through encouraging voluntary participation.
For example, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced a mandatory mask order on Wednesday, but acknowledged that it would be “hard to enforce,” and as such was asking for the public to “practice personal responsibility.”
The Associated Press reports:
Ivey declined to impose new restrictions as recently as June 30, when she said a statewide mask order would be “next to impossible” to enforce.
Violating the new order can result in a fine of $500 and jail time, Ivey said, although she stressed that protecting residents, not imposing penalties, is the goal.
In the neighboring state of Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves (R) has been ardently advocating for masks while declining to create a sweeping mandate that would affect everyone in the state. In a popular Twitter thread earlier this week, Reeves said that “despite mixed messages at the beginning, it seems like masks are the best bet.”