Health and Science

New York Gov. Cuomo urges Trump to sign executive order mandating masks

Key Points
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged President Donald Trump on Wednesday to sign a national face mask mandate to help contain the fast-spreading coronavirus. 
  • Cuomo said he was encouraged by Trump's support of masks on Tuesday after months of resistance.
  • "I think there's been too much denial for too long and we need the commitment from the federal government," Cuomo told MSNBC. 
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks inside of the New York Stock Exchange after earlier ringing the opening bell as the building opens for the first time since March while the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID19) continues in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 26, 2020.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged President Donald Trump on Wednesday to sign a national face mask mandate to help contain the fast-spreading coronavirus that's ripping through the Sun Belt. 

Cuomo said he was encouraged by Trump's support of masks on Tuesday after months of resistance. The president also warned Americans that the pandemic in the U.S. will probably "get worse before it gets better."

Trump adopted "a different tone" during his White House press briefing Tuesday night, which was a "good sign," Cuomo said in an interview with MSNBC.

"We need that. We need the federal government to step up, acknowledge the problem. I think there's been too much denial for too long and we need the commitment from the federal government," Cuomo told MSNBC. 

He applauded Trump's new endorsement of face masks. On Monday, the president tweeted wearing a face covering was a "Patriotic" action to take during the pandemic.

Cuomo said he wants Trump to take his support a step further by signing an executive order requiring masks across the country. The New York governor said health experts who advise the White House have said that "40,000 more Americans will die because we don't have a mask policy," although Cuomo didn't say who issued that prediction.

"As incredible as that is, you can sign a piece of paper that will save the life of 40,000 Americans. Why wouldn't you want to do that?" Cuomo said. 

As Covid-19 cases grow, some states and cities have adopted their own face mask orders, essentially requiring people to wear them when in public and around others. However, the mandates have sparked a national debate over whether local authorities can enforce the policies. 

After months of mixed messages, Trump on Tuesday urged Americans to wear a mask, which health experts have said can help slow the virus's transmission. Trump has previously said that he's not in favor of a national mask mandate. 

"We're asking everybody that, when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask," Trump said at the White House news briefing. "Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they have an effect, and we need everything we can get."

The coronavirus has continued to spread across the country for weeks. Some states are now beginning to report an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, a sign that their outbreaks are worsening. Texas and Florida hit grim records Monday for daily coronavirus deaths based on a seven-day moving average.

As of Tuesday, hospitalizations continued to grow in 32 states, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project. The virus has infected an average of 66,805 people per day in the U.S. over the past seven days, up more than 7% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

— CNBC's Will Feuer and Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report. 

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President Trump recommends people wear protective masks whether they like them or not