GOP Senator: Hispanics Less Adherent to Social Distancing, Mask-Wearing

Screengrab / MSNBC / YouTube

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Senator Tillis (R-N.C.) says Hispanics are less likely to follow guidelines of wearing masks and social distancing.

On Tuesday, Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told constituents he was concerned that Hispanics make up a high percentage of COVID-19 cases in his state, attributing this belief to Hispanics not wearing masks or social distancing as much.

  • Tillis expressed this opinion in response to a question about how to deal with anti-maskers, though the asker did not mention Hispanics.
  • "Just wear the mask out of respect. And I will tell you, I'm not a scientist and I'm not a statistician, but one of the concerns that we've had more recently is that the Hispanic population now constitutes about 44 percent of the positive cases," said Senator Tillis.
  • Tillis added: “And we do have some concerns that in the Hispanic population we've seen less consistent adherence to social distancing and wearing a mask.”

Senator Tillis faces a competitive reelection race in the fall that will help determine the next Senate majority. He leads Democrat Cal Cunningham by an average of 4.2 percentage points, according to ReadClear Politics

The Senator’s campaign spokesman, Andrew Romeo, said Tillis thinks North Carolinians of all backgrounds should wear masks. “The community faces significant challenges, including multi generational households that make it tougher to social distance, and the increased exposure risk for essential workers on the frontlines…”

  • Senator Tillis has been a vocal proponent of mask-wearing throughout the pandemic, even as the topic became politicized.
  • Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the virus in the U.S., mostly due to the higher likelihood of Hispanics working in industries like construction, health care, and food supply.

However, the Pew Research Center released a report that communities of color are more likely than whites to wear masks and consider it important for their communities.

  • In a June survey, 89 percent of Asian Americans reported wearing a mask in stores some of the time, along with 87 percent of Hispanics, 86 percent of Black respondents, and 78 percent of whites.
  • Another Pew survey reveals that 63 percent of Hispanics think people should wear masks in public or near others, compared to 61 percent of Black participants and 41 percent of whites.
  • Black, Asian, and Hispanic respondents were also more likely than whites to report wariness of wearing masks for fear of seeming suspicious to others.

Read the full report.

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