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McConnell: Wearing a mask is 'single most significant thing' to fight pandemic

McConnell: Wearing a mask is 'single most significant thing' to fight pandemic
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Democrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Wall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday said wearing a mask is the single most important thing Americans can do to contain the coronavirus pandemic and get the U.S. economy back on its feet, setting up a contrast with President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE, who rarely wears a mask.

“I’ve been promoting mask-wearing, we’ve been doing it in the Senate since the first of May when we resumed in-person sessions. It’s the single most significant thing everybody in the country can do to help prevent the spread,” McConnell said in an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“Wear a mask, practice social distancing,” the GOP leader added.

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The GOP leader made the comment when asked by host Jim Cramer whether governors should be instructed to reopen state economies and schools with the proviso that people be required to wear masks.

McConnell has stressed the importance of wearing a mask for months, taking a different approach from Trump, who rarely wears a mask in public and has said it’s up to individual Americans whether to wear a mask.

The president in May said, “I won’t be doing it personally, it’s a recommendation.” Early on in the pandemic, Trump stressed that wearing masks would be voluntary and ridiculed former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, for wearing one.

McConnell and other GOP senators, such as Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Senators reintroduce bill to block NATO withdrawal New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations MORE (Fla.), have instead emphasized the importance of masks.

“Until we find a vaccine, these are really important,” McConnell, holding up a mask, told supporters during a public appearance in Kentucky last month. 

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“I see various events on television on which people are clearly not wearing masks, not taking this seriously and not doing others a favor. We need to get past that,” he said. 

Rubio told reporters in June: “Everyone should just wear a damn mask.”

Trump in recent days has changed his tone on wearing masks.

He first wore a mask in public during a July visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and said late last month he will “gladly” wear a mask, especially on elevators or in groups.

Trump’s campaign emailed supporters on Monday to encourage them to wear masks when social distancing is not possible.

“I think it’s something we should all try to do when we are not able to be socially distanced from others,” the email read.