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McConnell makes strong call for masks, saying there should be no stigma

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell shoots down Manchin's voting compromise Environmental groups urge congressional leaders to leave climate provisions in infrastructure package Loeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run MORE (R-Ky.) said Monday that wearing a mask cannot be stigmatized, calling wearing one in public part of the country's new routine amid the coronavirus pandemic.

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, said until there was a vaccine Americans needed to find a "middle ground" between widespread lockdowns and life pre-coronavirus.

"We need new routines, new rhythms and new strategies for this new middle ground in between. It's the task of each family, each small business, each employer and all levels of government to apply common sense and make this happen. To name just on example, we must have no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people," he said.

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"Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter," he added.

McConnell has encouraged mask wearing amid the coronavirus, including saying in Kentucky on Friday that they were a "way to indicate that you want to protect others."

His latest comments come as President TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE has come under scrutiny for routinely not wearing a mask and not encouraging Americans to wear a mask.

Vice President Pence told CBS News that the White House was trying to defer to governors and other local officials on wearing a mask.

“One of the elements of the genius of America is the principle of federalism, of state and local control,” Pence said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “We've made it clear that we want to defer to governors. We want to defer to local officials, and people should listen to them.”

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But two governors privately urged Pence to have himself and Trump promote wearing masks.

Some GOP senators have also encouraged Trump to wear a mask when appropriate.

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told CNN on Sunday that if Trump wore a mask in public it would encourage his supporters to also wear masks.

"I think it would be a sign of strength if he would from time to time wear a mask and remind everyone it's a good way [to slow the spread of COVID-19]," Alexander said.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Senate unanimously confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar | Scrutiny mounts on Microsoft's surveillance technology | Senators unveil bill to crack down on cyber criminals FCC votes to advance proposed ban on Chinese telecom equipment The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE (R-Fla.) said last week that he would "prefer" that Trump wore a mask "because people would follow" his example. Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave Senate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office MORE (R-W.Va.) also said that she believed Trump should wear a mask in "certain situations."