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Ted Cruz slams fellow senator as a 'complete ass' over wearing mask

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFormer CIA head, Cruz trade jabs over killing of Iranian nuclear scientist: 'You are unworthy to represent the good people of Texas' O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (R-Texas) called a Democratic senator a “complete ass” for asking that fellow lawmakers wear masks while in the chamber. 

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE (D-Ohio) had asked Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanTrump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview MORE (R-Alaska) to wear a mask while presiding over the Senate on Monday.

While Cruz argued that Sullivan was about 50 feet from Brown, and therefore didn’t need to wear a mask, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health authorities recommend that people use face coverings when in public indoor spaces and workspaces regardless of distance.

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“This is idiotic,” Cruz tweeted Monday night, adding that Brown “is being a complete ass. He wears a mask to speak — when nobody is remotely near him — as an ostentatious sign of fake virtue.” 

The CDC advises that people “should wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household.” 

CDC guidance also states that masks are not a substitute for social distancing, and masks should be worn in addition to staying at least six feet apart to most effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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It’s especially important to wear masks indoors where COVID-19 spreads more easily because of less ventilation, the CDC states.

Throughout the pandemic, Brown has repeatedly asked his colleagues to wear masks in the chamber. While House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Governors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight MORE (D-Calif.) requires everyone on the House floor to wear masks, there is no similar requirement in the Senate. 

"I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking like most senators. I don't need your instruction,” Sullivan said to Brown on the Senate floor.

While Cruz argued that Sullivan was at least 50 feet away from Brown, video of the exchange shows Sullivan was much closer to at least one Senate staffer. 

The CDC updated its guidance recently to state that masks also provide some protection to the wearer, in addition to helping stop others who may not know they are sick from spreading the virus.

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The CDC states that COVID-19 is mostly spread via close contact through respiratory droplets exhaled by an infected person, through sneezing, coughing or talking. 

But the agency recently acknowledged it is also possible for the virus to spread beyond six feet indoors through smaller particles that linger in the air for minutes or hours and increase in number with the volume of speech.

Several senators, members of Congress and people in the White House, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE, have contracted COVID-19, though it is often unclear where they got the disease because of a lack of contact tracing within the Capitol and White House.

Several cases last month were tied to White House celebrations announcing the nomination of Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Cardinal Dolan hails Supreme Court decision on churches, COVID-19 Cuomo blames new conservative majority for high court's COVID-19 decision MORE to the Supreme Court, with Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus MORE (R-Utah) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge North Carolina — still purple but up for grabs Team Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters MORE (R-N.C.) falling ill. 

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyColorado governor, spouse test positive for COVID-19 McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Iowa) announced Tuesday he will quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.