Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) proposed legislation on Monday requiring that masks be worn in federal facilities as coronavirus cases continue to surge in some areas of the U.S.

The Texas Democrat introduced the Wear Your Mask Act, which mandates that people wear masks in federally owned, leased or operated facilities and buildings. 

The requirement would remain in place until the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is headed by Anthony Fauci, determines masks are no longer needed to prevent COVID-19 spread.  

"As Congress continues to work on additional COVID-19 relief efforts, it is incumbent upon us to take simple common sense actions that will prioritize the safety and well-being of federal workers and the general public that visit federal government buildings," Garcia said in a statement.

These facilities are required to provide face masks at entrances for those who do not own one. The bill allows a federal agency to remove or deny service to anyone who does not wear a mask.

Garcia called for the bill to be included in the next congressional COVID-19 relief package. 

"As Members of Congress, we have a responsibility to keep people safe and we know based on CDC guidelines that wearing a face mask could make the difference between life and death during this pandemic," she said. 

Original co-sponsors of Garcia's bill include Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and André Carson (D-Ind.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people wear a cloth face covering in public, especially when social distancing is not possible. 

At least 21 states, including Louisiana and California, have declared that masks must be worn in public, while other states have recommended they be worn.

President Trump has been hesitant to wear a mask in public but did so for the first time over the weekend during his visit to Walter Reed hospital to meet with wounded soldiers. 

The U.S. has confirmed more than 3.3 million coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic, leading to 135,512 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.