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Face mask rules face backlash from some Americans

Former NY Congresswoman and Independent Women's Forum Board Member Nan Hayworth joins Yahoo Finance's Zack Guzman to discuss the latest coronavirus developments as face mask rules face backlash from some Americans.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, let's jump more into this issue and try and get some inside DC thinking from a former congresswoman who knows all about operating in that environment-- that would be former congressman-- congresswoman from New York, Nan Hayworth rejoins us. She is also the Independent Women's Forum board member.

And, Congresswoman Hayworth, when we look at this, it is interesting, because it does sound like Republicans and Democrats at least agree on that fix. But when we talk about the thinking inside the White House, Larry Kudlow was talking yesterday about maybe offering a bonus for people to get back to work, which would be the exact opposite from when we think about the $600 on top of unemployment benefits that people have been seeking through the CARES Act.


So when we look at maybe these shifting incentives right now to shift towards reopening the economy and the economic cost associated with that, what's your take on what should be done here in the next wave of relief?

NAN HAYWORTH: Well, it illustrates, Zack, exactly how-- and I do know this from the inside having been in Congress-- how incentives are driven and, indeed, distorted by government action. So under the circumstances, the PPP and the terms of the CARES Act have actually been observed with great alacrity, given how clunky the federal government tends to be. But Larry Kudlow is exactly right, Zack.

And one of the things that I've said is that, you know, these are relief bills. They're really not stimulus bills. The only way to stimulate the economy is to get people back into productive work. You know, that's how we actually create wealth, as opposed to just redistributing wealth. You know, take a bucket out of the deep end of the pool, running it around to the shallow end and throwing it back in-- so Larry's right.

And one of the challenges we have is that one of the terms of this legislation-- again, Washington getting involved in distorting the economy is that unemployment benefits have been plussed up. So a lot of people around the country who were predicted not to be influenced by that plus up have actually been very reluctant to go back to work when their employers, who are getting Payroll Protection checks, want to bring their workforce back [AUDIO OUT] And they find the workforce not rushing back in, because they're doing better with unemployment insurance.

So the next round, Zack, should be directed at correcting some of these challenges and problems that the previous bills created.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, well, let's talk more about those other issues too, because it's not-- I suppose it's not all economic when we're talking about this crisis. There are the health aspects. And you would know them well as the first congresswoman to also be an M.D. I'd love to get your take on that front too, because we just heard from the man representing clubs across the country. And there is a health concern and health risk not just for the guests who'd be going back to those businesses, but the workers as well without proper testing and appropriate practices.

And it doesn't necessarily seem like a lot of these industries can social distance. If you're a waiter at a restaurant, even though there are fewer people, you still got to talk to these people in pretty close quarters. So without proper testing being ramped up right now, is it realistic to really say, look, workers, I know that you would enjoy to stay on unemployment for the health benefits of that and being safe at home, but you've got to come back. So we add a bonus tier. I mean, is that really the way that it could work?

NAN HAYWORTH: Well, you know, it's-- as you know, Zack, it's industry to industry. And speaking as a physician, we do know that, fortunately, we can identify the populations most at risk-- not that we want anyone to get an infection-- we certainly don't-- but we are going to have to-- you know, there are definitely going to be limitations on recovery until we have either really definitive therapies that will mitigate the course of the virus so that we can pretty much guarantee no one is going to run into terrible trouble-- at least no one from risk categories that we really have to protect with extra strength anyway, like the elderly in nursing homes, the immunocompromised-- and a vaccine.

But you're absolutely right. Those in the hospitality industries, bars and restaurants in particular, I think are going to find it challenging. That said, we are developing still, and there has been an incredible mobilization of the private sector to create ever-faster and more accurate testing so that we will eventually have really, you know, day to day on-site testing so that we can say, yeah, you don't have the virus or, yes, you do.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, let me--

NAN HAYWORTH: When we get to that point-- you know, we're going to have to be extra protective in terms of masking and handwashing.

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, I'm glad you bring it up too, because masking seems to be one of those things right now that, for the life of me, I cannot understand. Because we talked about the benefits-- and as a physician and former congresswoman, you know this very well-- we talk about how clear the data is in that wearing a mask is safe and helpful in trying to limit the spread of this. And yet, we see so many Americans out there not necessarily wearing one.

And you see the president also wearing one when he wears it in private, and then at the Ford factory, he says, I'm not wearing it now. The messaging has not necessarily seemed as clear as it might have-- is it could have been about saying, listen, Americans, you need to wear the mask, because it helps cut down transmission. I'm curious why you think that [INAUDIBLE] and if the CDC and other government entities need to step up and make it even clearer for us to understand.

NAN HAYWORTH: Well, you know, Zack, and in fact, if you look deeply at the science behind masking, there's some good epidemiological evidence. Jeremy Howard's been doing great work at the University of California-San Francisco on that. Countries like Taiwan or locales-- countries like Taiwan, locales like Japan, countries like Japan have had much less in the way of death toll and mortality, because they do mask much more routinely as a society.

But the science and technology of masks is actually not entirely proven, and a lot of people-- I see the videos-- a lot of people are not wearing masks optimally. They're not covering their nose. They don't have a seal here. They don't have a seal around. In some sense, it becomes PPE theater. When it comes to the president, per se, he is tested probably literally every day to see if he has coronavirus.

He is in a particular position. I don't object to his not wearing a mask when he is addressing the American public. And there are plenty of-- Governor Cuomo, I have yet to see him wear a mask when he's addressing the state of New York, as far as I can remember. So it's-- you know, both sides of the aisle have their leaders and prominent people who aren't doing it. But it is necessary for us to bear all these things in mind, knowing that marginally, incrementally, they may make a difference.

ZACK GUZMAN: That's an important point.


ZACK GUZMAN: It's a very important point-- it's a very important point to end this one on, because that's important when we only have a third of Americans wearing one right now. Former congresswoman Nan Hayworth, always appreciate you taking the time to chat with us.