- White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday declined to wear a mask when addressing reporters on Capitol Hill.
- Walking away without answering any questions, he said, "I'm not going to talk through a mask."
- Journalists who cover Capitol Hill lawmakers are calling on congressional leaders to improve access to coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and to wear masks when talking to members of the media.
- But Meadows, like President Donald Trump and others who work in the White House, continue to flout public health guidelines amid the world's worst COVID-19 outbreak.
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President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows refused to wear his mask on Monday while addressing reporters on Capitol Hill and walked off without taking any questions.
During the encounter, a CNN congressional reporter, Kristin Wilson, asked Meadows to keep his face covered while speaking, according to Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim. But Meadows pulled a microphone-outfitted podium closer to himself and took off his mask, to the concern of journalists.
"Well, I'm more than 10 feet away," he said.
Seconds later, Meadows put his mask back on and stalked away from the group.
"I'm not going to talk through a mask," he said.
This incident occurred on the first day of the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings for Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Health experts have noted that the coronavirus is known to travel several feet in the air, especially indoors, and that mask-wearing is one of the effective ways to prevent transmission. Already, the United States has reported more than 7.7 million cases and 214,000-plus deaths, based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Meadows' refusal comes as representatives for journalists covering Capitol Hill lawmakers are urging congressional leaders to provide more access to testing and contact tracing, and to follow public health guidelines, including wearing masks, when interacting with members of the media.
This request came in reponse to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the White House, with several cases linked to Barrett's nomination ceremony in the Rose Garden on Sept. 26. In the days that followed, the president, first lady, a handful of senators, and several White House aides tested positive for the disease.
Since then, several lawmakers have worn face coverings while talking to reporters on Capitol Hill, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was begun to wear one during her weekly press conferences.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also signaled last week that he hasn't been to the White House in two months and suggested that the Trump administration's coronavirus prevention measures are lax.
"My impression was their approach to how to handle this was different than mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing," McConnell said at an event in Kentucky.
But Meadows' actions on Monday are in keeping with the White House's pattern of neglect when it comes to safety protocols amid the pandemic.
The first family violated CDC guidelines and the rules laid out for the first presidential debate on September 29 by refusing to wear face masks. Despite subsequently being infected by COVID-19 and winding up in the hospital, Trump has not mandated the use of face masks in the West Wing.
Hours after Trump's positive test on October 2, Meadows refused to wear a mask during a press briefing, claiming that he had tested negative, while also saying that he "fully" expected other White House staffers to get coronavirus.
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