Photos show the large crowd did not wear masks and did not practice social distancing, safety measures health experts have advised to slow spread of the virus.
Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) was photographed this past weekend alongside a number of other prominent Republicans at a GOP picnic, mingling with a crowd of maskless attendees.
The event was held barely a week after McSally, who did don a mask periodically throughout the afternoon, encouraged constituents to wear a mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Photos from the gathering, posted on Facebook by Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward, showed a group of roughly 50 people crowded under an outdoor pavilion. Not a single person is seen wearing a mask.
In addition to McSally and Ward, Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican, was also present at the event.
A photo of the three together shows only McSally was wearing her mask.
McSally has regularly used her social media accounts to promote wearing masks to limit the spread of the virus.
On June 30, she tweeted a photo of herself wearing a mask, along with the message, "We can flatten the curve together! Wear a mask when you go out in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19."
On July 9, she retweeted a video from the Arizona Department of Health Services giving instructions about how to properly wear a face mask along with the text, "Do your part to help slow the spread of #COVID19."
Her campaign did not respond to emails asking if McSally encouraged those at the picnic, including her fellow Republican officials, to wear masks.
Health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing face masks in public to stop people from spreading the virus and to protect others.
"Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting," Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said on July 14. "All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities."
The maskless event occurred as coronavirus cases are surging in Arizona. The state has nearly 150,000 cases of coronavirus, and at least 2,918 people have died.
Cases in the state increased sharply after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey lifted a stay-at-home order in mid-May against the health experts' advice.
If cities or states reopen businesses too early "without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks," Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's leading infectious disease expert, told Congress on May 12.
Reopening too early could lead to "suffering and death that could be avoided," he added.
McSally, who was appointed to her Senate seat in January 2019 to carry out the remainder of the late Sen. John McCain's term, is facing a tough election against Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly this November. Kelly has led in 16 of the last 17 statewide polls, according to Real Clear Politics.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.