Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is the latest Republican governor to reject the political fight over wearing face masks in public to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
“This is not about politics. This is not about whether you are liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican or Democrat,” DeWine said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, adding:
“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 where we truly are all in this together. What we do directly impacts others.”
He was reacting to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), who on Friday made a heartfelt plea to constituents to “dial up empathy and understanding” and skip the partisan debate about wearing masks. DeWine said the remarks were “spot on.”
The governors’ comments come following a string of divisive incidents linked to wearing masks as states gradually reopen. DeWine had faced backlash at the start of the month when he mandated all Ohioans to wear masks in public, forcing him to revoke the decision a day later.
Despite official guidance from public health experts that wearing face coverings can slow the spread of the virus and should be worn in public, the governors have faced mixed messaging on mask-wearing from their party leadership. President Donald Trump has repeatedly flouted the policy and, amid his push to kickstart the economy earlier this month, reportedly told advisers he believed wearing one would “send the wrong message.”
At a tour of a Michigan Ford Motor Co. plant on Thursday, he wore a mask for part of the outing but took it off before appearing in public because he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
Vice President Mike Pence, too, faced criticism when he bucked the policy while visiting Mayo Clinic in April. He later admitted he should have done so, and donned a mask at a factory tour a week later.
Despite a number of high-profile controversies over mask-wearing, a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll found that most Americans consider wearing masks a matter of public health. A large majority of Democrats and a more modest majority of Republicans support wearing masks, the poll found.