White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows removed his mask around reporters on Monday while refusing to talk while wearing the face-covering before proceeding to walk away without answering any questions.
CNN congressional reporter, Kristin Wilson, requested Meadows to keep the mask on while speaking, Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim said. However, a frustrated Meadows pulled the microphone towards himself.
The reporter told the Trump administration official to pull away and he removed his mask and insisted that he was sufficient distance from the reporters to answer their questions safely.
"Well, I'm more than 10 feet away", he said.
He then put the mask back and walked away as the concerned group took photos of him leaving. As he was leaving he said he would be willing to answer questions but not "through a mask".
Video of Capitol Hill reporters insisting WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wear a mask while talking with them and Meadows deciding he won’t talk to reporters if he has to wear a mask. pic.twitter.com/kDX10BLDnk— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) October 12, 2020
This exchange took place on the first day of the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court - Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
According to health experts, the coronavirus can travel several feet through the air, especially indoors, and wearing a mask is a way of preventing the spread.
The Meadows incident comes as representatives for journalists working around Capitol Hill are calling on congressional leaders to offer further access to testing and contact tracing, and adhere strictly to public health guidelines, including the wearing of facial coverings while interacting with the media.
Utah Senator Mike Lee also showed up to the hearing despite announcing earlier this month that he had tested positive for coronavirus after attending a White House event for Mr. Trump’s announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee.
Sen. Mike Lee, who tested positive for Covid-19 less than two weeks ago, appeared in person today for the first day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings https://t.co/VmLV9Xmn0j pic.twitter.com/gB2heGMwRo— POLITICO (@politico) October 12, 2020
Lee, who serves as a member of the Judiciary Committee holding Barrett's nomination hearing, spoke for several minutes without wearing a mask. He announced in a tweet responding to Cory Booker, he thanked the Democratic Senator for his concern and poster a letter from his physician saying he could end quarantine and did not require further testing.
The United States has reported over 7.7 million confirmed cases and more than 214,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.