McConnell Won’t Call Out GOP Govs Whose School Mask Mandate Bans Are Backfiring

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 25: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined by fellow Republican leadership, speaks to reporters following the weekly Republican policy luncheons on Capitol Hill on May 25, 2021 in W... WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 25: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined by fellow Republican leadership, speaks to reporters following the weekly Republican policy luncheons on Capitol Hill on May 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Republicans spoke on their own infrastructure plan and are expected to introduce their counteroffer to President Biden's plan later this week. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 29, 2021 4:44 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Sunday offered an evasive answer when asked about his thoughts on Republican governors’ bans on mask mandates despite rising COVID-19 infections in their states.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” McConnell was asked whether it was a mistake for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to ban mask mandates even as their respective states continue experiencing spikes of COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the delta variant.

McConnell replied that he is “kind of reluctant” to advise governors on their response to COVID-19, before pivoting to urging the public to get vaccinated against the infectious disease that has killed more than 600,000 Americans thus far.

“I’m kind of reluctant to give governors advice about how they ought to carry out their responsibilities during the pandemic, but I do think it’s important to remember that 90 percent of the people in the hospitals are unvaccinated,” McConnell said. “So the answer to this is get vaccinated.”

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McConnell reiterated that vaccines are the “key” to moving forward from recent spikes in COVID-19 cases, which he described as a “crisis among unvaccinated Americans.”

In recent months, McConnell has called out vaccine hesitancy among right-wingers, especially men, many of whom are supporters of former President Trump.

Both DeSantis’ and Abbott’s orders banning school mask mandates have been dealt blows recently as a growing amount of districts refuse to comply with their bans. Ten school districts in Florida have bucked DeSantis’ order banning mask mandates thus far, despite his threats to cut funding from districts that impose mask requirements.

In updated public health guidance issued earlier this month, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) noted that Abbott’s order banning school mask mandates isn’t being enforced “as the result of ongoing litigation.” The Texas Supreme Court this month temporarily gave local officials approval to maintain their mandates.

The Biden administration has reiterated its support for school districts that defy bans on mask mandates issued by Republican governors.

President Biden directed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to order his department’s civil rights office to investigate states such as Florida and Texas that are banning school mask mandates. During an interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” this month, Cardona said that schools “do not have to get the green light from (their) governor” to access COVID relief funds to reimburse any financial losses their districts might face for defying Republican governors’ mask mandate bans.

Watch McConnell’s remarks below:

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