Covid-19 diagnosis for Sen. Tillis raises questions about Coney Barrett nomination and mask-wearing

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Editor’s Note: This story has a different headline and added tweets to update the original version.

A controversy surrounding the wearing of masks began after Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) was diagnosed, among others, with COVID-19 despite the fact that he wore a mask when he attended President Donald Trump’s Rose Garden ceremony to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

“Thom Tillis wore a mask at the event in the Rose Garden- he has tested positive,” wrote journalist Heather Childers on Twitter Saturday.

In addition, a photo of the event shows Tillis wearing a mask at the nominating event, which, apparently, may not have helped prevent his infection.

Dr. Dena Grayson, who purports to be an expert on the ebola virus, tweeted out a picture of the event showing where Tillis and others — some of whom are now positive for COVID-19 — were seated at the event.

She called the event a “super spreader,” but again, Tillis was masked — at least during the announcement ceremony.

Earlier, however, photos from Tillis’ Twitter feed show him meeting with Barrett indoors, while socially distanced, and sitting next to her son with no mask and no social distancing.

That said, no one in the Barrett family has reportedly contracted the virus.

Tillis announced he tested positive on Friday. Also, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced he tested positive as well. Both were at the White House event.

President Trump has also contracted the virus and is currently undergoing treatment for it at Walter Reed Medical Center.

“Tonight my COVID-19 test came back positive. I’m following the recommendations of my doctor,” Tillis said on Twitter.

“Thankfully, I have no symptoms and feel well. COVID is a very contagious virus. If you were exposed or start to display symptoms, please call your doctor, self-isolate, and get tested,” he added.

Tillis’ spokesman, Adam Webb, gave an update on the senator’s condition Saturday, informing constituents and supporters that Tillis had begun to demonstrate “mild symptoms,” but that he does not have a fever.

“Senator Tillis continues to self-isolate at home in North Carolina and has mild symptoms, no fever, and he is in great spirits,” he Webb noted. “Thom and his wife Susan are grateful for the prayers and well wishes they’ve received from North Carolinians.”

While most health experts have been recommending Americans wear masks when in public or in circumstances where they cannot socially distance, there is disagreement over their effectiveness.

Earlier this year, even as the pandemic was continuing to spread across the world, Swedish health officials said mask-wearing was ineffective in preventing the spread. Sweden never shut down over COVID-19.

“Face masks in public spaces do not provide any greater protection to the population,” Johan Carlson from the Swedish Public Health Agency Folkhälsomyndigheten told a May 13 press conference.

“There is a risk of a false sense of security, that you believe that you can’t be infected if you wear a face mask,” added Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the time.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lead immunologist in the U.S., said in March during an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”

He noted that while masks do stop some droplets, they don’t provide the kind of protection people think they do. Also, he noted, as have other health experts, that people often touch their masks without washing their hands, which helps spread viruses.

“The masks are important for someone who’s infected to prevent them from infecting someone else… Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” he said then.

“When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is,” he added.

“And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”

 

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Jon Dougherty

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