WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wore a mask for the first time over the weekend to visit wounded service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after refusing to be seen doing so in public since the start of the pandemic.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has supported wearing masks to stay safe and shield others from COVID-19. His thoughts are echoed by a growing number of Republicans, including Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said wearing a mask shouldn’t be a stigma.

What You Need To Know

  • A rising number of Republicans are supporting wearing a mask amid the pandemic

  • Trump campaign attendees are not required to wear a mask although it's "strong encouraged"

  • "If you’re in a situation that you’re going to be closer, a mask should be used," McCarthy said

  • McCarthy continues to support wearing a mask but doesn't say whether there should be a mask mandate for Trump's rallies

“The reason you need a mask is the droplets and the distance you have, so if you are outside and you’re not near somebody by more than six feet, you probably don’t need a mask," McCarthy said. "But if you’re in a situation that you’re going to be closer, a mask should be used. And that’s what the recommendation says."

McCarthy said he talked to an employee at a local hospital who was concerned that the protests for racial justice and police reform were contributing to the rise in coronavirus cases.

“What we’re finding is the uprising, this uptick that we saw. Normally it takes about two weeks to see this coming, but we saw all those protests out there," he said. "I saw that one in L.A. that was shoulder to shoulder, and it went for a mile long. So many people were not wearing masks and now we see a real spike when it comes to those who now have COVID and are spreading it through these regions.”

McCarthy said he was concerned watching the protests.

At Trump's Oklahoma rally in June, thousands who attended were seen not wearing masks. The campaign has recently started to "strongly encourage" attendees to wear their masks. McCarthy wouldn't say whether or not he believes there should be a mask mandate for the president’s campaign events.

“I’ve only seen one rally during this time, but I’ve seen lots of protests night after night. I wouldn’t sit here and ask a question about one rally," McCarthy said. "It’s interesting to me that New York has come down and banned any gatherings, from churches, from small groups, but they still allow protests."

"It’s a concern to me if he’s going to allow a protest, would you wear a mask," he said. "I would say in any situation that you are in, like when I watch those shoulder to shoulder, or those screaming matches where people would protest and scream at the police officers who just stood there doing nothing, that yeah, that was a real problem. And we’ve now seen—with it being 2-3 weeks later—why we’re seeing these spikes across the nation.”