(LEX 18) — Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is encouraging Kentuckians to wear face coverings while out in public.
"We must have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people," Sen. McConnell writes in a statement. "Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we encounter."
The senator also says there should be a middle ground "between unsustainable emergency lock-downs and our ordinary life" before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Read Sen. McConnell's full statement below:
"Each time I've returned home over the last several weeks, I've had the honor of traveling to different Kentucky hospitals to safely meet with healthcare professionals, thank them for their incredible work, and listen to what's on their minds.
"For more than three months now, our nation's doctors, nurses, and health professionals have been fighting day and night to heal strangers and protect our nation. I said in mid-March that our country was about to meet a lot of new heroes, and that among them would be many people "who wear scrubs…who rush toward the sick, and wash their hands until they bleed."
"Well, Americans and families from coast to the coast have met just such heroes.
"The front-line professionals I'm meeting are proud to do their work. And you'd better believe they are appreciative that the sacrifices and the smart precautions taken by the American people stopped health systems from being overrun in the springtime; allowed them to continue giving each patient the care they deserve; and bought our country time to plan a smart, safe, and gradual re-opening.
"Until we have a safe and effective vaccine, it will remain all of our jobs as American citizens to help our nation settle into a middle ground between unsustainable emergency lock-downs and our ordinary life from before all this.
"In short: We cannot go back to April, and we cannot go right back to normal. We need new routines, new rhythms, and new strategies for this new middle ground in between.
"It's the task of each family, each small business, each employer, and all levels of government to apply common sense and make this happen.
"To name just one example: We must have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people. Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we encounter.
"In fact, the more we hate the pain and suffering that accompanied the strict stay-home guidelines a few months ago, the happier we should be to take reasonable small steps every day to ensure our country can stay on offense against the virus.
"Now, the Senate should take pride in the degree to which our historic response has helped the country get where we are.
"All of the health leaders and professionals I meet continue to be glad for the CARES Act, the historic, bipartisan legislation that Senate Republicans wrote and then negotiated across the aisle.
"We sent historic resources to hospitals and health providers to help them do their healing work and fight this new invader.
"That was in addition to the historic relief we provided to households and small businesses, which economists across the political spectrum say saved millions of jobs and prevented an economic free-fall.
"In May and June, while the Democratic-led House has been mostly absent, the Senate has kept right on leading. In addition to legislating on other important subjects, we have continued to work all angles of the pandemic.
"By the end of this week, I believe our committees will have held more than 40 hearings on key aspects of this crisis, so this institution can continue to learn and inform any future work.
"As I've been saying for weeks, a number of us are putting together strong legal protections for healthcare professionals, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and employers so our recovery is not promptly swamped by a second epidemic of frivolous lawsuits.
"While the Democratic House slapped together an absurd multi-trillion-dollar wish list that even the mainstream media panned immediately, the Senate has continued with our substantive, serious, facts-first approach.
"That is the winning formula that built the historically successful CARES Act, and that is the formula we will replicate in any future recovery legislation down the road."