Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) plans to introduce an amendment that would withhold federal assistance payments to states that do not require face masks to be worn. The senator proposal comes as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise throughout the country.
"In the last two weeks, 41 states saw an increase in coronavirus cases, with a total of 3.5 million infected nationwide," the senator wrote in a statement posted to her website. "California, Florida and New York each topped 300,000 cases, and Texas will soon follow. We’ve seen 60,000 new cases in five of the last six days. We’re failing to control this virus and it’s time for serious action."
Feinstein cited CDC Director Robert Redfield who said the surge in Wuhan coronavirus cases could end within two months if the country adopted "universal masking." The senator also cited companies like Walmart and Kroger that require face masks to be worn in stores throughout country as well as other nations that have instituted universal masking and "successfully" controlled the virus.
"Wearing masks in public should be mandatory. Period," Feinstein wrote. "Leader McConnell said the Senate will take up the next coronavirus economic relief bill later this month. At that time, I intend to offer an amendment to prohibit sending funds to states that haven’t adopted a statewide mask requirement."
"The situation is getting worse daily. Several states including California, Alabama and Montana already require masks in public. This should be universal. My hope has been that other governors would show the leadership to institute their own mask mandates, but so far that hasn’t happened. It’s time for Congress to step in. This is a matter of life or death, and partisan politics shouldn’t play a role."
Calls for universal masking are at odds with some governors, like Brian Kemp (R-GA) and Kristi Noem (R-SD), who have resisted efforts to institute mask-wearing within their states.