A Democratic senator has caused a stir on the Senate floor after demanding senator Rand Paul, a coronavirus skeptic, wear a face mask in front of his colleagues.
Sen Sherrod Brown demanded that Sen Paul wear a mask in front of the entire Senate during a long series of votes on the budget resolution on Thursday.
Sen Brown, of Ohio, called Sen Paul out when he stood up to ask that each vote be limited to 10 minutes, asking him to wear a face-covering in line with everyone else.
“I would like to ask Sen Paul in front of everybody to start wearing a mask on the Senate floor like the entire staff does all the time,” Sen Brown said exasperatedly.
He added: “I appreciate now the presiding officer wearing a mask. But I wish Sen Paul would show respect to his colleagues to wear a mask when he’s on the Senate floor walking around and speaking.”
Sen Brown did not block Sen Paul’s request to limit the time of the votes and Sen Paul did not put a mask on for the remainder of the vote to chat, The Hill Reported.
Speaking to Fox News in November, the senator encouraged the 11 million Americans who have tested positive for the coronavirus to stop wearing masks, claiming they were “immune”.
“We should tell them to throw away their masks, go to restaurants, live again because these people are now immune,” Sen Paul, who has previously contracted the virus himself, said.
The World Health Organisation confirmed in April that just because you recover from the virus does not mean you cannot catch it again or furthermore still pass it on to others.
“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the organisation said.
Experts have said those who have been infected with Covid-19 develop a protective antibody but that it isn’t clear exactly how long the protection lasts.
The emergence of new more transmissible variants of the disease causes further uncertainty over protective antibodies and whether individuals could be reinfected.
CNN’s medical analyst Dr Jonathan Reiner called Sen Paul’s actions “arrogant ignorance” in an interview discussing the incident on Thursday.
“Look if senator Paul thinks he can’t get the virus again he’s wrong… If the senator doesn’t think he can be infected again with a variant he’s wrong,” Dr Reiner said.
“If he doesn’t think he can give it to his colleagues, he’s wrong. If he thinks he’s making some sort of heroic libertarian stand, he’s wrong and just out and out selfish.”