Alexander says ‘stakes are too high’ for political debate on wearing masks

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WASHINGTON (WATE) – Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander said Tuesday “the stakes are too high,” for the political debate around wearing masks to continue.

Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joins a number of Republicans who are urging people to wear masks and not make wearing or not wearing masks a political statement.

“Unfortunately this simple lifesaving practice has become part of a political debate that says: If you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask. If you’re against Trump, you do,” Alexander said. “That is why I have suggested the president should occasionally wear a mask even though there are not many occasions when it is necessary for him to do so. The president has millions of admirers. They would follow his lead.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, left and Center for Disease Control (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield, talk with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., right, as they prepare to testify before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)

“If you want college football to return this fall, like I do, listen to the words of the University of Tennessee’s Athletic Director, Phillip Fulmer who told fans how they can help make that happen: ‘If you really, really want sports, football, and all those things, then wear a mask and keep social distancing.’”

“The United States is in the middle of a very concerning rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many states, and the experts in front of us today have told us that washing our hands, staying apart and wearing a mask are three of the most important ways to slow the spread of the virus.”

Alexander comments came during a Health Committee hearing on COVID-19 that included testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, Admiral Brett Giroir of HHS, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (Al Drago/Pool via AP)

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