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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) puts on his face mask after speaking to members of the media following the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at Hart Senate Office Building June 23, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In Republican circles — with the notable exception of the man who leads the party — the debate about masks is over: It’s time to put one on. As a surge of infections hammers the South and West, GOP officials are pushing back against the notion that masks are about politics, as President Donald Trump suggests, and telling Americans they are a vital tool that can save lives. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee on Tuesday bluntly called on Trump to start wearing a mask, at least some of the time, because the political optics are getting in the way of protecting American people from COVID-19.