GOP senator: If you're still refusing to wear a mask, 'I hope you're a scientist'

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Trump has refused to wear masks that health experts say can help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

A GOP senator last week scolded Americans, including those in his own party, for refusing to wear face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina was asked during a tele-town hall about the refusal by Donald Trump and other Republicans leaders to wear facial coverings and Trump's mockery of those who do wear them.

"Anybody shaming somebody for wearing a mask because a medical professional asked them to," Tillis answered. "I don't mean anybody any offense out there who thinks they shouldn't wear a mask, but I hope you're tested daily, I hope you're an epidemiologist, I hope you're a scientist, because only with that experience can you possibly think that it's safe to go out without a mask."

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Tillis compared refusal to listen to expert advice on wearing masks to living in a flood-prone area and ignoring government flood advisories as a hurricane approached.

There is "no scientific basis for that behavior," Tillis said. "There's a strong scientific basis for saying, If you do that, you will likely get sick or you will likely infect somebody, and you will likely cause us additional challenges as we want to open up the economy."

Donald Trump has refused to wear a mask in front of cameras, saying that he "didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it" and that it was "not necessary." Last week, he mocked a reporter for wearing one, calling it "politically correct."

Tillis did not criticize Trump. Asked specifically about Trump's refusal to wear a mask and his mocking of Biden for doing so, Tillis claimed he didn't know what Trump had said. "I haven't seen the specific comment that the president made," he said, "The president is in a setting where anybody around him and the president's tested, sometimes several times a week."

Several congressional Republicans have pointedly refused to wear masks, even when urged to by colleagues. On Wednesday, Iowa Democratic state Sen. Zach Wahls tweeted that at that day's legislative session, "Not a single Republican Senator or staffer is wearing a mask."

Tillis' comments not long before the Republican National Committee's announcement on Wednesday that it will move its nominating convention out of his state because it would not exempt attendees at the convention from virus safety rules. Trump had demanded that the thousands of convention delegates be permitted to attend the August gathering without any face coverings or social distancing, according to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

Last month, the Associated Press reported that Trump has refused to wear a mask because he feared he would look ridiculous and affect his reelection chances in November.

On May 25, Trump retweeted a comment made by a Fox News analyst mocking Joe Biden for wearing a face mask. Biden responded by calling Trump an "absolute fool" for his "macho stuff," warning it was "costing people's lives."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged that "everyone wear cloth face coverings when leaving their homes, regardless of whether they have fever or symptoms of COVID-19." A study commissioned by the World Health Organization found doing so may reduce the spread of the coronavirus by as much as 82%.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.