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Nancy Pelosi Calls Trump 'Cowardly' For Not Wearing Mask, Supports Federal Mandate

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attends a press conference Friday on Capitol Hill. Pelosi told NPR that she agreed with Joe Biden that mask usage should be mandated on the federal level.
Tasos Katopodis
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attends a press conference Friday on Capitol Hill. Pelosi told NPR that she agreed with Joe Biden that mask usage should be mandated on the federal level.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday told NPR she agreed with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's assessment that mask usage should be mandated on the federal level amid a surge of coronavirus cases across the United States. She blamed the Trump administration for failing to accept the seriousness of the pandemic.

"I totally agree with Joe Biden. As long as we're faced with this crisis, masks should be mandatory," Pelosi told NPR's Ari Shapiro and Susan Davis on All Things Considered.

"In fact, the reason the CDC hasn't made it mandatory is because they don't want to embarrass the president, or insult the president, whatever it is," Pelosi said, calling Trump "cowardly" for not wearing a face mask.

The United States on Thursday set a new daily record for confirmed coronavirus cases. The surge in the virus's spread comes following an intense push by the president to ease mitigation requirements and reopen states' economies.

Trump has taken advantage of the relaxed requirements, holding two rallies in as many weeks as he attempts to restart his campaign schedule for the 2020 White House race against Biden.

After weeks of no public briefings, the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Friday cautioned young people to take more precautions in assessing their risk for the disease, warning that although they may be less susceptible to the serious health fallouts from the virus, they could still pass it on to others.

"A risk for you is not just isolated to you, because if you get infected, you are part — innocently or inadvertently — of propagating a dynamic process of the pandemic," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Still, Vice President Pence, who has also recently relaunched a cross-country travel schedule, said he believed the close gatherings in defiance of health care officials' guidance were an exercise of free speech.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the House GOP Conference chair, who rarely agrees with Pelosi, tweeted a picture of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, on Friday with the message: "Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK."

Pence plans to travel next week to Texas and Arizona, two states that have seen significant spikes in cases of the virus.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.
Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.
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