Ohio Gov. DeWine is latest Republican to say wearing a mask isn’t about politics

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CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 18: Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine appears on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicks off on July 18. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on Sunday said wearing a mask “is not about politics,” as the country reopens and the number of coronavirus deaths nears 100,000 in the US.

“This is not about politics, this is not about whether you’re liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican, Democrat,” he said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“We wear the mask, and it’s been very clear what the studies have shown, you wear the mask not to protect yourself so much as to protect others. And this is one time when we truly are all in this together. What we do directly impacts others.”

His comments come amid an ongoing split on mask-wearing among Americans as states start to reopen and lift restrictions. DeWine was criticized earlier this month for ordering all residents to wear a mask in public, a mandate he has since rescinded.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended Americans wear a mask or facial covering while in public to limit the spread of coronavirus, President Donald Trump, who has been reluctant to wear a mask since the beginning of the pandemic, refused to wear one before cameras while touring a Ford plant in Michigan on Thursday, saying, “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said it is “clear scientific evidence” that masks are effective during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” She was also asked if she wished the President wore a mask when in public both for safety reasons and a messaging perspective.

“I’ve asked everybody independently to really make sure that you’re wearing a mask if you can’t maintain the six feet,” she said. “I’m assuming that in a majority of cases, he’s able to maintain that six feet distance.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, also weighed in on the mask-wearing debate, giving an emotional plea on Friday for residents to not be divided over wearing masks, calling for empathy and understanding.

“I would really love to see in North Dakota that we could just skip this thing that other parts of the nation are going through, where they’re creating a divide — either it’s ideological or political or something — around mask versus no mask,” he said during a news conference. “This is a, I would say, senseless dividing line.”

He added, “I would ask people to try to dial up your empathy and your understanding. If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support. They might be doing it because they’ve got a five-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life, who currently have Covid and they’re fighting.”

Florida Sen. Rick Scott, another Republican and an ally of the President, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” on Sunday that citizens should wear a mask, but it should be their choice and that government officials should not be telling them what to do.

“Do I believe people ought to wear masks? Yep, I believe people ought to wear masks. Do I believe people ought to social distance? Yep, I believe they ought to social distance,” he said. “Do we need the President, the governors, and all the local officials to tell us how to lead our lives every day? No. We’ll figure this out.”

He continued, “We want to keep our family safe, we want to keep out friends safe and we’re going to do this in a safe manner. I trust the American public. I think they’re going to make good decisions.”

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