Senate Republicans are raising the alarm over the country’s rapidly growing number of coronavirus cases.
The warnings come as President Trump has repeatedly linked the recent spike to an increase in testing, while also overselling his administration’s response and appearing optimistic about the odds of a quick vaccine or the disappearance of the virus altogether.
But GOP senators — back in their home states, many of which are seeing increased case counts — are painting a more sobering picture with their on-the-ground view.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has crisscrossed Kentucky during the recess, telling constituents that the coronavirus will not “magically disappear” and stressing that wearing a mask should not be a political issue.
“Regretfully, this is not over. There were some that hoped this would go away sooner than it has. And I think the straight talk here that everyone needs to understand is this is not going away,” McConnell said during one of the stops.
“This is going to be with us for a while,” he added. “The coronavirus is not involved in American politics. It has its own way forward, and we need to act responsibly.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — who, like McConnell, is up for reelection — characterized the public health fallout from Memorial Day as a “disaster,” pointing to an increase in cases coupled with a decrease in hospital space and available protective equipment.
“You can see the effects of what happens when you kind of let your foot off the gas,” he said.
Graham, a close congressional ally of Trump, also called for individuals to wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing, comparing the coronavirus fight to a “war.”
“All I can say is that if you believe wearing a mask is a sign of weakness, then you’re wrong,” he said. “Nobody is asking you to go to Afghanistan and get shot — just asking you to use common sense.”
The pleas from Republicans come as roughly 40 states are seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, according to New York Times data, with public health officials warning that many Americans and government officials are offering rose-colored predictions about the likelihood of quickly returning to pre-pandemic activities like sports and socializing in large groups.
The United States hit an all-time high in the number of cases in a single day on Thursday with more than 75,600 cases, according to New York Times data. Six of the last seven days through Friday have also had daily cases at 60,000 or more, according to the Times.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose state recently became the global epicenter, told Fox News, “Look it’s bad. It’s not great.”
“People need to wear their mask, they need to be more conscious of it. I believe they now are. But remember, the hospitalizations we’re seeing today are the infections that happened two or three weeks ago. Hopefully, if we can begin to correct that behavior now we’ll see improving numbers as we move forward into the next month,” he said.
Source: The Hill