Vice President Mike Pence is on board with encouraging the public to wear masks, but he doesn’t believe that there needs to be a nationwide mask mandate to help slow the spread of the coronavirus as several states experience spikes in cases.
During an interview on CNBC Thursday morning, Pence blamed the surge of coronavirus cases in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida on the expansion of testing and younger people gathering “in settings where the coronavirus was apt to spread.”
Pence argued that’s why he and President Trump support efforts by governors in those states to modify or pause aspects of their reopening. Pence said that “it’s good news” that roughly half of the new coronavirus cases in the Sun Belt are younger Americans.
“It’s good news that we know who has it — we can take steps to slow the spread by focusing on encouraging younger Americans to practice social distancing, wear a mask when it’s indicated or when social distancing isn’t possible,” Pence said. “But also, it’s good news because as we all know, younger Americans are much less susceptible to serious outcomes.”
Pence was then pressed on why he has not implemented a nationwide mask mandate given how “the tradeoff seems so attractive” economically. The vice president argued that he doesn’t think “there’s a need for a national mandate” because the administration supports local officials’ efforts.
“The truth is that we’re monitoring right now 12 states that have rising cases and rising positivity,” Pence said. “We’re fully supporting efforts that governors are taking and local health officials are taking to encourage people to practice good hygiene, social distancing, wear a mask when social distancing is not possible or is indicated by the local circumstances.”
On Sunday, Pence finally encouraged the public on to wear masks if local officials direct people to do so. The VP’s call for mask wearing compliance came after spending most of the weekend deferring to governors and local officials on mask requirements.
Trump has not budged on a nationwide mask mandate either. On Wednesday, the President told Fox Business that “I don’t know if you need mandatory” masking due to social distancing practices.
On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany continued deferring to local officials on mask-wearing requirements, saying that it’s the President’s “choice to wear a mask.”
Watch Pence’s remarks below:
Pence: "I don't think there's a need for a national mandate" on masks pic.twitter.com/7FOhpo6uJb
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) July 2, 2020