WH Still Won’t Explicitly Recommend Masks Even After Pence Encourages Wearing Them

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 29: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing room at the White House June 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. Along with queries about the governm... WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 29: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing room at the White House June 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. Along with queries about the government response to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, McEnany also fielded questions about a report that the Trump Administration failed to organize a response to a Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 29, 2020 2:56 p.m.
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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday continued deferring to local officials on mask-wearing requirements, even after Vice President Mike Pence finally encouraged people to wear facial coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

When pressed on whether President Trump’s view on mask wearing has changed in light of increased coronavirus cases and city officials in Jacksonville, Florida — the site of the Republican National Convention in late August — announcing a new policy requiring people to wear masks in public spaces, McEnany said that it’s Trump’s “choice to wear a mask” and to defer to local officials on the matter.

“It’s a personal choice of any individual as to whether to wear a mask or not,” McEnany said. “He encourages people to make whatever decision is best for their safety, but he did say to me he has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you.”

McEnany doubled down on deferring to local officials later in the briefing when asked whether individuals should listen to their local officials or HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who urged people to wear a mask if they can’t practice social distancing.

“So the CDC guidelines are they’re recommended, but not required,” McEnany said. “The President would encourage everyone to follow the orders of their local jurisdiction and CDC guidelines.”

McEnany’s remarks on Monday contrasts with what Pence said the day before. During a press conference with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Pence said that he would like to “strongly reiterate” mask wearing wherever it’s impossible to practice social distancing. Pence’s remarks came after he spent most of the weekend deferring to local officials on mask wearing requirements.

Calls for wearing masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have grown among Republican lawmakers.

On Sunday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told CNN that it would “help” if the President wore a mask to put an end to the political debate surrounding the matter.

Alexander’s mask wearing request for Trump came on the heels of Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) urging the public to comply with the practice as well.

Watch McEnany’s remarks below:

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