Chuck Grassley seemed to question whether science has proven that masks help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 after being asked about it during a Keokuk County town hall on Tuesday.
Family Nurse Practitioner Barbara Coffman posed the question to Iowa’s senior US senator after sharing her concerns that the health care system could be overwhelmed soon with increased spread of COVID-19 now that schools are back in session.
“I’m really concerned about the next two or three weeks with school starting,” Coffman said. “Evidence-based medicine has shown that wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. I’m wondering, do you believe that masks reduce the spread of COVID-19?”
Grassley, a Republican, told Coffman he wears a mask when required, but questioned the science surrounding them.
“I think everybody says, ‘follow the science,’ but it doesn’t seem like science has proved one way or the other, but I wear a mask where I have to wear a mask,” he said. “For instance, for almost a full year in the United States Senate we had to wear a mask and I did.”
The exchange was filmed by American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic political action committee that monitors Republican officials.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control, when worn correctly, multi-layer cloth masks block the release of exhaled respiratory particles into the environment, along with the microorganisms these particles carry. The coronavirus is transmitted predominately by inhalation of respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe.
Coffman also asked Grassley if he knew that Keokuk County had one of the lowest COVID vaccination rates. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, about 38 percent of Keokuk County residents are fully vaccinated.
“I have been vaccinated and I would advise other people to get vaccinated,” Grassley said. He followed up by noting he does not support legislation that would mandate vaccination.
by Ty Rushing