Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) issued a scathing tweet against a Democratic colleague on Monday night, deriding him for making a request that individuals on the Senate floor wear masks during deliberations.
Since they were first recommended as a means to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, has made frequent calls for others in the legislative chamber to wear masks while in session indoors. He reiterated that request to Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who was presiding over the Senate at the time, during deliberations on Monday.
“I’d start by asking the presiding officer to please wear a mask as he speaks,” Brown said.
“I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking like most senators … I don’t need your instruction,” Sullivan responded.
Brown retorted with a condemnation of those who are not taking the pandemic seriously.
“I know you don’t need my instruction, but there clearly isn’t much interest in this body in public health,” Brown said. “We have a president who hasn’t shown up at the coronavirus task force meetings in months. We have a majority leader who calls us back here to vote on an unqualified nominee.”
Once again, I asked my Republican colleagues to stop endangering all the Senate workers – and simply wear a mask when presiding over the Senate.
Once again, they refused. pic.twitter.com/lykJO8MWmI
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) November 17, 2020
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) later tweeted out support for Brown’s cause.
“Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement. Wearing a mask is about basic human decency and protecting those around us,” Carper said.
But Cruz took the opposing view, launching into a tirade against Brown on social media and describing his actions in negative terms.
“This is idiotic. @SherrodBrown is being a complete ass,” Cruz tweeted. “He wears a mask to speak — when nobody is remotely near him — as an ostentatious sign of fake virtue.”
Cruz mocked Brown further by noting that Sullivan was “over 50 feet away, presiding.”
“Last I checked 50 feet is more than 6 feet,” Cruz said, referring to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on coronavirus.
While making reference to those guidelines to make his point, however, Cruz may do well to revisit them, as he appears to have misunderstood or is confused by the CDC’s recommendations. While the CDC recommends keeping a distance of at least six feet from others when out in public, it does not say that doing so negates the need to wear a mask.
According to the CDC website, social distancing guidelines “should be practiced in combination with other everyday preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” including wearing a mask. Indeed, the CDC makes it a point to mention that masks are especially important when among people indoors (owing to the greater risk of spreading COVID-19 within a space where the air is recirculated).
“Masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart,” the CDC recommends on another page discussing mask-wearing.
Masks are considered by many experts as being the best means we have right now to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, particularly from an infected person. Recent research, however, shows that wearing a mask with multiple cloth layers can also protect the wearer, with one study finding that facial coverings can reduce by 50 percent the number of respiratory droplets or aerosolized particles that would normally be breathed in.
Cruz has a history of being confused by the CDC guidelines on mask-wearing. In October, while speaking with reporters in a Capitol Building hallway, the Texas senator refused to wear a mask. When reporters asked if he’d put one on, he answered “no,” wrongly arguing that the CDC guidance on masks said it was fine for him to be unmasked if he was more than six feet away from them.