McConnell urges mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing; criticizes Democrats for remarks about vaccine rollout

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed Thursday to fast-rising numbers of coronavirus cases and said “It’s urgent that all Americans continue the smart steps that have gotten us this far: wearing masks, social distancing, adapting our plans and routines.”

“This virus is not going to magically leave us alone if we decide we are fed up with taking precautions, McConnell added after noting that it “is continuing to spread across our country at rates that are not sustainable, and which we must try to slow.”

He noted that Kentucky had its highest-ever daily total of new cases, 2,700, and that the percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus is the highest since early May, 8.12%.

“But — thank God, and thanks to brilliant scientists — we may look back on this hopeful announcement as the beginning of the end of this terrible ordeal,” McConnell said, hailing the statement by Pfizer Inc. that it has developed a coronavirus vaccine that appears to be 90% effective.

“I said in March that our country was about to meet a whole lot of new heroes. Many were going to be doctors and nurses. Others were going to be the essential workers who kept society going. And some were going to be men and women who worked like crazy in labs and research centers until we had this virus beat,” McConnell said. “But every American has a role. As cases continue to climb, the simple advice — wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands — are now as important as ever.”

In his speech on the Senate floor, McConnell criticized Democratic officeholders for questioning “this unambiguous good news. The Democratic governor of New York state opined a few days ago that it was, quote, ‘bad news’ that a vaccine breakthrough may have been reached because President Trump is in office.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s complete quote was “It’s good news, bad news. The good news is that the Pfizer tests look good and we’ll have a vaccine shortly. The bad news is that it’s about two months before Joe Biden takes over and that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan . . . I believe it’s flawed,” because it relies mainly on the private sector, including pharmacies and hospitals, “and that’s going to leave out all sorts of communities that were left out the first time when covid ravaged them.”

McConnell noted that Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has pointed out “that the plans that are in place put states in the driver’s seat for arranging distribution and making sure the most vulnerable citizens receive access. The federal government is there to provide guidance and support.”
McConnell also called out Cuomo and California Gov. Gavin Newsom for “openly second-guessing the Food and Drug Administration and doubting its ability to assess the safety of a vaccine.” He called the FDA “the trusted authority” and said the governors’ statements reminded him of California Sen. Kamala Harris saying “in September, during her vice-presidential campaign, that she might hesitate to trust a vaccine.”

“The whole country understands that our Democratic friends are not charter members of the President Donald Trump fan club,” McConnell said. “They do not need to dabble in the early stages of anti-vax conspiracy theories to prove it. In fact, for the sake of public health, and public confidence, and saving lives, they have a moral obligation to stop.”

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