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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote 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 TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout 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 AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes 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 RubioGOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China 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 CapitoDemocratic centrists flex power on Biden legislation Biden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy MORE (R-W.Va.) also said that she believed Trump should wear a mask in "certain situations."