Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday urged Americans to wear face masks while out in public amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying there must be "no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people."
His comments come as the United States deals with a surge of new cases in several parts of the country, including Florida, Arizona, and Texas. People need to start setting "new routines," McConnell said during a speech on the Senate floor, adding that "wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter."
There was a lot of "pain and suffering" that went along with strict stay-at-home guidelines, he said, which is why people should be more willing to "take responsible small steps every day to ensure our country can stay on offense against the virus."
Vice President Mike Pence was seen wearing a mask while visiting Texas over the weekend, but President Trump refuses to put one on in public. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Sunday that Trump could be an example to his supporters, telling CNN it would "help if from time to time the president would wear one to help us get rid of this political debate that says if you're for Trump, you don't wear a mask, if you're against Trump, you do." Catherine Garcia
The U.S. isn't seeing a second wave of coronavirus. It never even left the first.
While other countries have been able to reopen after pretty much beating COVID-19, the U.S. has started to get back to normal without even exiting its first coronavirus peak. This graph from Our World of Data, which compares U.S. case counts to countries in Europe, makes it clear that the U.S. isn't even in a COVID-19 plateau — it's starting to see case counts rise again.
Here you can see when a country bent the curve. • The chart is plotting the rate of daily new confirmed cases against the cumulative case rate on the x-axis. • The line color in our chart shows how well a country is testing.
And as Time's director of data journalism Chris Wilson notes, that new rise in cases could push America beyond its previous daily case count record. The U.S. hit its peak case count in late April with 36,379 COVID-19 cases reported, and while cases hit a bit of a trough in late May and early June, they're on a clear increase once again.
The US is perilously close to surpassing its previous peak daily value of new COVID cases on April 7 (7-day centered rolling avg) pic.twitter.com/IgYZfkeyVH
More widespread testing can account for some of the increase, but states that had seen the harshest effects of coronavirus early on, namely New York and parts of the northeast are still in a steady downturn from their April peaks. Instead, states that had low initial case counts are fueling this recent rise, showing how COVID-19 is spreading into rural areas and western states that were quick to reopen after federal guidelines loosened up. Kathryn Krawczyk