Chris Cuomo of CNN argued that the July 4th celebration at Mount Rushmore is not an "apples to apples" comparison to protests for police brutality.
Cuomo claims that since the protests weren't organized by official government entities, any attempt to mandate masks during them “would have been madness.”
Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) said the event will consist of “7,500 folks, in an outdoor venue, with health screening available, everybody’s going to be given a mask. And you know what, I recommend they wear them. I thought your last segment was very insightful. I think that’s important. One more thing I want to mention, South Dakota, the landscape in South Dakota is unique. We only have 62 COVID patients hospitalized across the entire state. Our number of cases are going down. This is not Texas. This is not California. This is not Florida. And, frankly, we know that we can do this in South Dakota. Because in the wake of the death of George Floyd, we had protests. We had large numbers of people together in close proximity. They were wearing masks. They were outside. We did not see a spike in infections, and I think celebrating our country is every bit as important as protesting it.”
Cuomo pressed the issue on why there wouldn't be social distancing. Johnson responded that masks can cut the transmission rates of coronavirus by more than 90% when worn.
The exchange then turned to the comparison between a celebration and a protest.
Johnson fired back, “OK, set aside big government, why would the standard be different for tens of thousands of people out protesting their government, which they have an absolute, First Amendment, right to do, as long as they do it peacefully. Why would you have the rules be different for them, than you would for people celebrating their country?”
Cuomo responded, “A protest is not organized by official entities. And you have all these sensitivities about how we wanted to keep the police and the protesters from clashing. Imagine what we would have done if we were enforcing mask policies. And, as you did point out, a lot of the protesters did wear masks. Maybe they will at this event as well. But it’s not apples to apples. And again, I see a political convenience being played in a situation that should be about public health, Dusty.”
Johnson countered, “Political convenience is saying, oh, as long as there’s not one organizer, then we don’t need to have a rule or a regulation that binds the crowds.”
Johnson then said that protests can still be subject to "rules and regulation."
Cuomo replied, “I was talking about super-spreaders with the protests. We had multiple segments about how it’s going to be wrong. But you cannot believe that this is apples to apples. You are organizing this by choice. Those are protests of people who, in many cases, are angry and outraged, and we’re trying to keep the temperature down. We, forget about me, I cover it. You are trying to keep it down. You make the decisions about how the police deal with protesters, on a large scale, and to have them enforce a no-mask policy when they’re already hitting the streets because of police intervention in their lives would have been madness. It’s not apples to apples, unless you’re only looking at this through a partisan lens, the left liked the protests, why don’t they like our fireworks display? I think that’s unfair and counterproductive.”
Johnson responded, “Political convenience is wanting to have an entirely different set of rules for people protesting their country, than for those who are celebrating it. The bottom line is, people should be wearing the masks. And I think a lot of them will be.”
Check out the exchange:
"Isn't it a no brainer to say to people, 'look, we're not doing the social distancing…but, let's wear masks so we give ourselves a chance?'" @chriscuomo asks South Dakota GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson, who is defending the state's plans for Pres. Trump's Mt. Rushmore fireworks event. pic.twitter.com/N1EToPQzqm
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) July 1, 2020
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