The call comes as governors in some US states reject the advice of federal health officials on wearing masks to help slow the nation’s rapid rise of new coronavirus cases, with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp filing a lawsuit on Thursday against the city of Atlanta to block the urban region’s COVID-19 face mask mandate.
The US Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, has proposed an amendment to bar states that refuse to implement mask mandates from receiving funding from the next federal coronavirus relief package, calling on colleagues in the Senate to back the legislation.
In a statement issued Thursday, Feinstein pointed to the record increase in coronavirus cases in almost every state in the country, saying, “We’re failing to control this virus and it’s time for serious action”.
“Research shows that masks reduce transmission of the coronavirus. CDC Director Redfield said this surge in COVID-19 cases could end within two months if we adopt ‘universal masking.’ Businesses like Walmart, Kohl’s and Kroger now require masks. And countries that are successfully controlling this virus require masks. So why doesn’t the United States have a national mask mandate?” the Senator stated.
Feinstein argued, “Wearing masks in public should be mandatory” as the COVID-19 pandemic “is getting worse daily”. She called on US states to follow in the footsteps of California, Alabama and Montana, where mandates requiring masks in public are already in place, vowing, “It’s time for Congress to step in” to make the measure universal.
“[Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] 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 California Senator said. “It’s time for Congress to step in. This is a matter of life or death, and partisan politics shouldn’t play a role.”
Earlier in the day, Brian Kemp, the current governor of Georgia, said in a statement that his office had filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta to block the urban region’s face mask mandate, characterizing the health measure as a “reckless” action that puts politics over people.
“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” Kemp tweeted on Thursday. “I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens”.
This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times. (1/4) https://t.co/vxiOmteHaH
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) July 16, 2020
On Thursday, the United States COVID-19 tally increased by at least 70,727 new cases to currently stand at 3,563,848, the highest daily increase since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and the seventh highest posting this month, according to the Reuters US COVID-19 tally. 30 out of 50 US states have registered a record surge in COVID-19 cases this month.