Several lawmakers are ignoring Pa. House rules on mask-wearing

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The medical community insists that mask-wearing is effective at preventing coronavirus. The state Capitol has rules that all employees must wear them. So why are a couple of dozen lawmakers not following the rules?

At a committee hearing on Tuesday, Republicans Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) and Dawn Keefer (R-York, Cumberland) were unmasked. Diamond is unapologetic.

“I’m a little offended…by the question. Why do you not where a mask?” Diamond asked.

The Lebanon County Republican alluded to a physical condition that exempts him, but he also has a philosophical objection.

“I do believe masks don’t work and they don’t make a difference,” Rep. Diamond said.

Diamond is not a doctor. Justin Lessler of Johns Hopkins University is.

“What’s clear is masks work,” Dr. Lessler said.

Dr. Lessler is an epidemiologist who says the science is settled.

“You wearing a mask, it looks like it decreases the chances of you being infected by somewhere between 40 and 60 percent which is significant,” Dr. Lessler said.

But, according to Diamond, “the uses of leeches in medicine was once settled science.”

There is a rule saying members must wear masks on the floor. There are also complaints that too many Pa. lawmakers aren’t following them.

“It says something about their character that they can’t sit there and put a mask on for public health, safety, and welfare of society which is one of the things they’re supposed to be doing as elected officials,” Rep. Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia) said.

House leadership asking lawmakers to cover faces stops short of twisting arms.

“We’re always encouraging our members to wear masks. We’re pro mask, we’ve never been pro mandate,” House GOP Spokesman Jason Gottesman said.

The House changed the rules so that any member that feels uncomfortable or unsafe can fully participate, virtually.

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