U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Monday morning openly begged Fox News viewers to don face masks, adding that he doesn’t feel a national mask mandate is necessary, and therefore conservatives shouldn’t worry that the administration is “trying to take away your freedoms.”
During an interview with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace that aired on Sunday, President Donald Trump dismissed the need for a nationwide mask-wearing amid surging coronavirus cases, citing Adams’ initial recommendation that cloth masks were unnecessary in stemming the spread of the virus.
“Everybody said don’t wear a mask. Now all of a sudden everybody has got to wear a mask,” Trump said. “With that being said, I’m a believer in masks, I think masks are good. I leave it up to the governors.”
Adams, appearing on the president’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends, was asked by co-host Steve Doocy to explain why his stance on masks had evolved since the beginning days of the pandemic.
“Once we realized that the science was different for this virus, we changed our recommendations,” he said. “As the president said, this whole administration is supportive of masks. The part that people aren’t focusing on, which they should, is the president yesterday said, ‘I support masks.’”
Echoing the president, Adams said he didn’t see a need for a federal mask mandate, insisting that was “letting the politics and the policy get in the way of the actual practice” and that it would require a “federal enforcement mechanism.”
“Right now as a scientist and an educator, I would rather help people understand why they should cooperate with wearing a mask and how they benefit from it, versus just simply saying we are going to force you to do it, particularly by sending in federal troops or using federal mechanisms,” the surgeon general added.
With Republicans and conservatives still wearing masks at a far lower rate than Democrats and liberals, Adams then shifted his attention to begging Fox News’ audience to embrace masks to combat the virus that’s now killed over 140,000 Americans.
“That’s why I’m pleading with your viewers, I’m begging you, please understand that we are not trying to take away your freedoms when we say wear a face covering,” Adams exclaimed. “We are not trying to take away your ability to go out when we say keep restaurant capacity under 50 percent. We are saying if we do these things, we can actually open and stay open. We can get back to school, to worship, to jobs. We can do this!”
Fox News viewers, meanwhile, have continued to receive a mixed message on face masks from the conservative network’s own stars. While Doocy and Trump confidant Sean Hannity have openly endorsed mask-wearing, the network’s far-right personalities Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Dan Bongino have railed against mask mandates and disputed the science behind them.