Thank you Cindy Hyde-Smith for showing the leadership to publicly (and smartly) wear a face mask

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, April 29, 2020

One of Mississippi’s two U.S. Senators who attended a press conference Wednesday wore a face mask, as state and federal health authorities advise all citizens to do in public. The other didn’t.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, attended Gov. Tate Reeves’ afternoon press conference updating the public on the state’s COVID-19 coronavirus fight.

But only Hyde-Smith wore a face mask. She strolled into the room where the press conference was being held, then lowered the mask after taking her seat before the cameras.

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Wicker did not wear a mask.

Reeves has always attended the press conferences without a mask visible.

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs attends the meetings with a mask and takes it off as he take the microphone.

Hyde-Smith made a number of remarks about Mississippi’s battle against the virus and the impacts on the economy, but she also spoke to the people of Mississippi and encouraged citizens to not let their guards down.

“You’ve got to continue to listen,” she said. “The virus is still out there. It is still real. It is still there. We’re living in a new world, and I think we’re going to be changed forever. I don’t think we’re going to go back to business as normal.”

With her mask still on, but pulled down under her chin, she touched on the precautions citizens are encouraged to take.

“We need you to continue to to practice those safe cautions, to wear masks when you can, to wash your hands all those sanitation things,” she said. “I just ask, beg and plead that we continue to do those practical, safe things.”

The issue of wearing a mask or not wearing a mask has become an issue nationally after the guidance came out earlier this month.

When President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines recommending that Americans wear face coverings when in public, he immediately said he had no intention of following that advice himself, saying, “I’m choosing not to do it.”

Earlier this week, Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, came under fire by choosing not to wear a face mask during a tour of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Pence’s decision was a violation of the world-renowned medical center’s own policy requiring them.

Video feeds show that Pence did not wear a mask when he met with a Mayo employee who has recovered from COVID-19 and is now donating plasma, even though everyone else in the room appeared to be wearing one. He was also maskless when he visited a lab where Mayo conducts coronavirus tests.

And Pence was the only participant not to wear a mask during a roundtable discussion on Mayo’s coronavirus testing and research programs.

Mayo tweeted that it had informed the vice president of its mask policy prior to his arrival. The tweet was later removed. Mayo officials did not directly respond to a request for comment on why it was removed, or at whose request.

“Mayo shared the masking policy with the VP’s office,” the health care system said in its response.

Pence explained his decision by stressing that he has been frequently tested for the virus.

“As vice president of the United States I’m tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus,” Pence said, adding that he is following CDC guidelines, which indicate that the mask is good for preventing the spread of the virus by those who have it.

“And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible healthcare personnel, and look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.'”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.