Donald Trump — who has returned to holding indoor political rallies with poor social distancing and even worse mask-wearing compliance — continues to cast doubt on the effectiveness of wearing face masks to control the spread of coronavirus, which has killed nearly 200,000 Americans.
At a town hall hosted by ABC Tuesday night, Trump rambled, unscientifically, about why “a lot of people think the masks are not good,” citing his recent interaction with a waiter.
Uncommitted voter asks Pres. Trump in a special @ABC2020 event: "Why don’t you support a mandate for national mask wearing? And why don’t you wear a mask more often?" https://t.co/m2cgtZUcIY pic.twitter.com/zSZmyjEWNS
— ABC News (@ABC) September 16, 2020
On Wednesday, in Senate testimony, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield directly contradicted the president. When asked about the effectiveness of masks by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Redfield insisted that face masks are our “best defense” against the spread of Covid-19. “We have clear scientific evidence,” he said. “They work.”
The nation’s top public health official elaborated that the pandemic could be brought “under control” within 12 weeks if everyone in the country wore a mask. He then made a striking claim: That masks likely offer superior protection against coronavirus than even a potential vaccine would. He noted that vaccines don’t always provoke an immune system reaction in those that receive them. “If I don’t get an immune response,” Redfield said, speaking hypothetically, as vaccines are still under development, “the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will.”
The CDC director appealed directly to young people who share the president’s deadly indifference to masks. The pandemic has been spreading rapidly on university campuses, creating hotspots in college towns across America. “I do want to keep asking the American public to take the responsibility, particularly the 18-to-25 year olds, where we’re seeing the outbreak in America continue,” Redfield said, “because we haven’t got the acceptance, the personal responsibility that we need for all Americans to embrace this face mask.”
Redfield is an imperfect messenger. He oversaw the disastrous rollout of the CDC’s coronavirus test. The delay in testing allowed the pandemic to spread widely as the CDC director advised Americans not to interrupt their daily lives and to even visit Disneyland.
Watch the CDC director’s testimony in the Senate about masks versus vaccines below, followed by a transcript of his remarks.
Quite a comment from CDC director Redfield pic.twitter.com/JYbKFHIr6G
— Tim Dickinson (@7im) September 16, 2020
Dr. Robert Redfield:
I’m not going to comment directly about the president. But I am going to comment, as the CDC director, that face masks, these face masks, are the most important, powerful public health tool we have. And I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings. I’ve said it: If we did it for six, eight, 10, 12 weeks, we’d bring this pandemic under control. We have clear scientific evidence. They work, and they are our best defense.
I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70 percent. And if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will. So I do want to keep asking the American public to take the responsibility, particularly the 18-to-25 year olds, where we’re seeing the outbreak in America continue to go like this [straight up] because we haven’t got the acceptance, the personal responsibility that we need for all Americans to embrace this face mask.