Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi clash over implementing face mask mandate

Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday the Trump administration is leaving it up to states to decide whether face masks should be mandatory to protect against the coronavirus — while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a nation-wide mandate on facial coverings is “long overdue.”

Asked about a spike in coronavirus cases across the south — and after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pleaded with residents to wear masks amid a surge in cases there — Pence said each state is in a “unique situation.”

“One of the elements of the genius of America is the principle of federalism, of state and local control. We’ve made it clear that we want to defer to governors. We want to defer to local officials,” Pence said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

But host John Dickerson said the coronavirus, which has killed more than 127,000 Americans, “doesn’t know federalism,” and questioned why there wasn’t a coordinated national response.

“If we’d have taken that approach, we’d have never had the success that we had in the greater New York City area. We’d have never had the success in Michigan or New Orleans, because from early on, we worked closely in partnership with governors to make sure that they had what they needed when they needed it, tailored to the unique circumstances in their states,” Pence said.

Meanwhile, Pelosi, in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” noted that the US has 4 percent of the world’s population but represents 25 percent of the cases worldwide.

“This is life and death. … We don’t have a vaccine, and we don’t have a cure. God willing and science-enabling, we will sometime soon,” she said, adding there are tools to combat the spread.

Asked if mask-wearing should be mandated across the country, the California Democrat said, “Oh, definitely long overdue for that.”

“And my understanding, that the Centers for Disease Control has recommended the use of masks, but not to demand because they don’t want to offend the president,” Pelosi said.

“And the president should be an example. You know, real men wear masks. Be an example to the country and wear the mask. It’s not about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting others and their families.”

Florida has more than 141,000 COVID-19 cases and has been recording record high numbers over the past several days — including 9,585 on Saturday and 8,530 on Sunday.

Texas reported a daily record high 5,996 number of cases on Thursday, with 5,707 on Friday ad 5,747 on Saturday.

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