California Rep. Ami Bera complained Wednesday that many of his fellow members of Congress still do not wear masks inside the Capitol, and compared efforts to convince them to cover their faces to “talking to a brick wall.”
“I see a lot of them, unfortunately,” Bera, a Democrat, said of anti-mask lawmakers during a POLITICO Live panel discussion.
“You just shake your head,” he said. “And sometimes, if you try to convince them on the benefits of wearing a mask, it does feel like you’re talking to a brick wall sometimes.”
Numerous members of Congress have tested positive for Covid-19 since the first two lawmakers were diagnosed in March. But some lawmakers, mostly Republicans, have remained skeptical or outright scornful of best practices meant to curb the disease’s spread.
Bera, a physician and four-term congressman from the Sacramento area, went on to suggest Wednesday that the anti-mask lawmakers’ attitude toward the personal mitigation measure mirrored the opinions of the constituencies in their home districts — another disappointing sign, he argued.
“Unfortunately, they’re reflective of the communities that they represent, as well,” Bera said, “because I think it’s going to track directly to what’s happening back in their home communities and how they’re talking about that.”
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in September that wearing a mask could be more effective than a vaccine at fending off the pandemic.
And a University of Washington model from July forecast that the U.S. daily coronavirus death toll could be reduced by more than 66 percent with universal mask-wearing.
President-elect Joe Biden announced last week that he would call on Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration, and predicted widespread adoption of mask-wearing would result in a “significant reduction” in Covid-19 caseloads.