Leading by Example, Some Politicians Urge Residents to Wear Face Masks

Across the country, state and local politicians have begun donning protective gear, in contrast to President Trump, who said he wouldn’t follow the C.D.C. guidance.

Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado encouraged state residents to wear masks while in public, and wore one himself on Friday in Centennial, Colo.
Credit...David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged Americans to wear masks when they venture outside, more state and local politicians have begun donning the protective gear themselves, standing in contrast to President Trump, who says the masks aren’t his style.

The politicians are showing off their masks in selfies, on jogs or at city meetings, sometimes as an explicit effort to lead by example — and sometimes simply to stay safe from the coronavirus and protect others. In some cities, residents are required to cover their faces when they leave their homes.

Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado secured a colorful piece of cloth to his face emblazoned with the state’s trademark “C” logo, and encouraged residents to do the same.

“This is really going to be, for the foreseeable future, an important part of our culture in Colorado,” said Mr. Polis, a Democrat.

In Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, posted a photograph of himself on Twitter with a frayed, gray piece of cloth wrapped around his face, and wondered if it would scare fellow joggers away.

The efforts clash with comments from Mr. Trump, who emphasized on Friday that the C.D.C. recommendation to wear cloth masks was voluntary and that he didn’t plan to follow along.

“Somehow, sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk — the great Resolute Desk — I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know,” he said. “Somehow I don’t see it for myself. I just don’t.”

Although the federal guidance is only a recommendation, some municipalities are taking things a step further, requiring residents to cover their faces when they are out and about.

The City Council in Lancaster, Calif., north of Los Angeles, on Friday required that residents wear masks, scarves or other coverings when they patronize or work at essential businesses that remain open, according to The Antelope Valley Press.

“We will start issuing tickets for misdemeanors if it comes down to that,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris, a Republican, according to the local newspaper report. “We are not going to allow anyone in our city to endanger the lives of our hardworking families. And anyone who is not wearing a mask, that is precisely what you’re doing.”

In Laredo, Texas, the City Council passed an ordinance that requires anyone who enters a building that is not their home or a bus to cover their mouth and nose, according to The Laredo Morning Times. If they refuse, they could be fined up to $1,000.

“I’d rather bury them in debt than bury them in a coffin,” Councilman George Altgelt said in response to worries that the fine was too harsh, the newspaper reported.

Even in cities where the recommendation is still just that — a recommendation — many local politicians are strapping on their own gear to urge the practice.

Credit...Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti via Associated Press

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti brought an all-black mask to a news conference this week, pulling it up too high — briefly covering his eyes — before triumphantly getting the straps to stay over his ears.

“Excuse me,” he said, his voice muffled by the mask. “This will be the look.”

Svante Myrick, the Democratic mayor of Ithaca, N.Y., said he had dug around in a drawer to retrieve an American flag-themed mask his mother had bought for him months ago.

“I thought she was overreacting,” he wrote alongside a selfie from the roof of City Hall. It was another example, he said, of why “we should always listen to mothers.”

Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson contributed reporting.