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Beyer and Garvey to Trump Campaign: Wear Masks in Arlington, Please

Two top local Democratic elected officials are calling on the Trump administration and the president’s Rosslyn-based campaign to wear masks while in Arlington County.

Rep. Don Beyer and Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey sent a letter today to Trump’s chief of staff and campaign manager, imploring them to follow public health guidelines at campaign headquarters and at events.

The letter was prompted by Vice President Pence’s June visit to Trump HQ, in which he and dozens of mask-less staffers were photographed crowded together, as well as by a recent presidential speech in a Pentagon City hotel ballroom, in which few of the conservative activists in attendance wore masks.

Trump’s Rosslyn headquarters was temporarily shut down in July due to a COVID-19 case, according to Politico.

“It is deeply important to us that everyone when they are in Arlington, including the President and personnel affiliated with him, adhere to public health guidelines requiring physical distancing and face coverings in indoor settings,” Beyer and Garvey wrote in the jointly-signed letter. “We beseech you to prioritize the health of the people around you, including your own staff and, especially, the residents of Arlington whom we represent. The future health of our community may depend on it.”

Trump, Beyer and Garvey are all up for reelection in November.

The full letter is below.

We write with deep concern about actions of President Trump, senior Trump Administration officials, and the Trump campaign which we fear could endanger the lives of people we serve and represent.

As you know, the country remains mired in a deadly pandemic that has killed over 184,000 Americans. Earlier this year, the nation’s capital was the site of one of the worst hotspots in the nation, and the effects were keenly felt in our Arlington, Virginia community. To date, over 3,500 Arlingtonians have tested positive for COVID-19, over 460 have been hospitalized, and 140 have died. But in recent months our community has turned the tide against this outbreak with lockdowns, stringent public safety measures, and the sacrifices of ordinary people. Arlington has a great deal to lose if we were to be afflicted with a new wave of widespread infection.

We are therefore terribly distressed to see President Trump and those around him paying insufficient attention to public safety guidelines and legal orders meant to stop the spread of the disease when they are here in our community.

Earlier this summer, Vice President Pence shared and then deleted a photograph which showed him addressing a packed room of unmasked staff at the Trump Campaign’s Arlington, Virginia headquarters. Subsequent news reports sourced to campaign staff revealed that Virginia public health guidance and safety rules requiring social distancing and face coverings in indoor settings are often ignored there. On Friday, August 21, President Trump addressed a national conference of conservative activists at a hotel in Pentagon City, and photographs of the event showed that it violated State guidelines, and few attendees employed the required physical distancing or wore face coverings.

The President and staff who work with him travel frequently across the country and are regularly exposed to large crowds. Some of them have already been infected with coronavirus. The conference in Arlington, likewise, was of the type that draws attendees who travel across the country. Some gatherings of this type, known as “super-spreader events,” fueled early outbreaks of COVID-19 and helped cause the national crisis which has claimed so many lives.

Those participating in these activities and events here without wearing masks or engaging in physical distancing could easily put Arlington at risk of a new outbreak. We are sure you agree that, as leaders and public servants, it is important that all of us set the best possible example in a time of crisis. That includes modelling the best behavior, as exemplified in safety guidelines developed by scientists and medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health, and following the Executive Order enacted by Governor Northam.

It is deeply important to us that everyone when they are in Arlington, including the President and personnel affiliated with him, adhere to public health guidelines requiring physical distancing and face coverings in indoor settings. We beseech you to prioritize the health of the people around you, including your own staff and, especially, the residents of Arlington whom we represent. The future health of our community may depend on it.

Donald S. Beyer Jr.
Member of Congress

Libby Garvey, Chair
Arlington County Board

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