Ohio governor: Wearing masks shouldn't be political issue

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says wearing masks while in public during the coronavirus pandemic should not be a political issue but is about people acting to protect others.

DeWine was reacting on NBC's “Meet the Press” Sunday to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's call for residents to avoid “mask shaming” people wearing protective gear. Burgum, a Republican and President Trump supporter, said people with masks deserve “support and encouragement” since they may be protecting someone vulnerable to the virus.

DeWine called those comments “spot on."

“This is not about politics, this is not about whether you’re liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican, Democrat," he said. “...You wear the mask not to protect yourself so much as to protect others. And this is one time when we truly are all in this together. What we do directly impacts others."

DeWine earlier issued an order for people to wear masks while shopping in stores but then reversed himself, calling the order “a bridge too far" and saying mask-wearing was strongly encouraged but not required for customers. He said Sunday that business employees are required to wear masks unless they cannot do so.

“As we go out, a lot of stores you’ll see 90% of the ... customers are wearing masks," the Republican governor said. “But we want to continue to up that throughout the state because it is really what we need as we open up the economy."