Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer agree that a national mask mandate would save jobs and lives.
MICHIGAN — “Mask up.”
It’s what Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for from Americans when she wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times Wednesday.
“When more Americans wear a mask in public, we can save lives and put ourselves in a better position to send our children back to school in the fall,” she wrote. “Wearing a mask is not a political statement; it is about protecting our loved ones from the spread of this deadly virus. I know the president has begun to understand that — he wore a mask on his visit to the Walter Reed military hospital this month.”
Whitmer called on President Donald Trump to issue a nationwide mask mandate like the one in place in Michigan, which requires masks to be worn in indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. Trump, who has suggested wearing a mask is a political statement against him, has only recently been making positive statements about wearing masks.
Trump’s likely contender in November, Vice President Joe Biden, supports a nationwide mask mandate in line with what Gov. Whitmer has done to flatten Michigan’s first curve and keep deaths down during a nationwide second spike.
“I would do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public,” Biden said in an interview in June. “The one thing we do know is these masks make a gigantic difference. I would insist that everybody out in public be wearing that mask. Anyone to reopen would have to make sure that they walked into a business that had masks.”
Masks on the Campaign Trail
In May, President Trump visited the Rawsonville Ford Plant in Ypsilanti. Despite Ford requiring everyone at Rawsonville to wear a mask, Trump didn’t. The president said he didn’t want to “give the press the pleasure” of seeing him in a mask.
He also made fun of his competitor, Biden, for wearing a mask on Memorial Day.
While Trump changed his tune on Tuesday, claiming falsely that he had always supported the use of masks and encouraged Americans to wear them, he was also seen mingling with guests at one of his hotels without a mask the previous day.
Defending this, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that Trump is tested multiple times a day, saying, “the president is the most tested man in America.”
This was contradicted from the same podium by Trump himself, who said later that he has never been tested more than once in a single day, and is only tested every two or three days. But even those who test negative ought to wear a mask anyway, says Dr. Matt Anderson, senior medical director of ambulatory operations at University of Wisconsin Health.
“The test that I had yesterday, if I’m out interacting with other people we don’t know, I could become infected tomorrow,” said Anderson. “We just can’t know for certain whether at any one given point and time we are potentially infected or not and able to transmit it to somebody else.”
By contrast, Biden has been regularly seen wearing face coverings. He has also called President Trump out for his demonstrated hostility toward mask wearing.
Mask Up, Michigan
The mask mandate in Michigan, and the one Biden would propose nationwide, are scientifically shown to be an effective solution to slowing the spread of the pandemic.
“Leaders across the country are telling families to mask up because the data shows it is the best way to protect ourselves and one another from [COVID-19],” Gov. Whitmer wrote in the New York Times Wednesday. “Modeling from the University of Washington indicates that more than 40,000 lives would be spared nationwide if 95 percent of the population wore a mask while in public.”
Michigan has provided businesses with some support in the effort to mask up, as The ’Gander reported. This includes resources to keep employees safe, signage about the mask mandate, and a procurement process to help businesses get personal protective equipment. Some businesses, like Neiman’s Family Market in St. Clair, Michigan, even provide masks to unmasked shoppers, according to customers on Facebook.
“By requiring everyone in their establishment to mask up, Michigan businesses can help keep their employees, workplaces, and customers safe,” said Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio. “Employers who violate the Governor’s Executive Orders, CDC guidance, and OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 create additional hazards for workers and put the public at risk. We all must do our part to prevent the spread of this virus.”
Gov. Whitmer also cited a Goldman Sachs finding that a national mask mandate would substitute for another wave of economic disengagement like that seen in March and April, at least in part, and would therefore help prevent an even greater collapse of the American economy.