Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R.) has a message for everyone in the Delaware Valley: Stop the coronavirus, wear a mask.
Speaking on 1210 WPHT’s Dom Giordano program, Toomey discussed the ongoing debate over whether or not people who aren’t infected should wear a facial mask to slow down the transmission rate of the coronavirus. The senator came down solidly on the pro-mask side.
“It’s the same logic that says, ‘sneeze into your arm, cover your mouth when you cough,'” he began. “We all know why we do that, it’s because it’s the little droplets that are expelled that could contain the virus and are a known mechanism for transmission.”
“Well, you know, droplets are released just by speaking, by exhaling. And so, putting some kind of barrier — and you know, it could be as light as a scarf, it could be a bandana, it could be some kind of mask — that is almost certainly going to reduce the rate of transmission. And so, the way I think about it is my mask protects you, your mask protects me, and if we’re all wearing masks in public then we’re all going to be safer and the transmission rate is going to decline.”
Toomey was careful to distinguish between wearing a basic facial covering and using one of the “N-95” high grade surgical masks desperately needed by medical professionals at a time when hospitals and emergency rooms are under duress, and in short supply. Leave those for the front-line folks, Toomey said.
Toomey went on to say he felt the lower coronavirus transmission rates seen in Asian countries where wearing facial masks has been more socially acceptable was partial evidence to support his push.
In Tuesday’s White House daily briefing on the federal government’s coronavirus response, President Trump said, “A lot of people have scarves, and you can use a scarf, and my feeling is if people want to do it, there’s certainly no harm to it.”
Toomey told Giordano that he had spoken with the president about an hour before the daily briefing and had encouraged him to back the idea.
Trump’s remarks spawned numerous “fact check” stories and other media pieces detailing the mask debate.
“Later in the briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx said the task force is just now considering whether that recommendation should change in any way, saying whether the public at large should wear masks is ‘still under discussion,'” a fact check from NPR noted.
A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) webpage advises those who are sick or who are caring for the sick should wear a facemask when they are around other people.
“During a public health emergency, facemasks may be reserved for healthcare workers,” the CDC page says, mirroring Toomey’s remarks as well. ” You may need to improvise a facemask using a scarf or bandana.”
In the discussion, Giordano also pointed to a Tuesday article from the Washington Post which unearthed internal memos showing the CDC was moving closer to advocating wider use of non-surgical grade face masks as an additional tool in the public fight against the virus.
Toomey also said he’d been in touch with the CDC urging them to revise their overall guidelines to advocate for wider use of facemasks in public even if the masks aren’t surgical grade.
The Senator said he was calling from home in a “self-imposed” isolation, “only out of an abundance of caution.”
“I have no symptoms whatsoever or anything, I feel great.”
“But I was working 16-hour days with a big group of people in close quarters and small conference rooms as we were hammering out [the recovery] bill. So, given that kind of exposure for an extended period I thought it would be better to keep my family safe and just do this for two weeks.”