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Florida lawmaker fined $500 for not wearing mask on House floor

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican, said he is fully vaccinated and following CDC guidelines.
Credit: House Television via AP
In this image from video, Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 23, 2020.

WASHINGTON — Three Republican lawmakers, including Florida U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, face a $500 fine for skirting mask rules on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Mast joins Reps. Beth Van Duyne of Texas and Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa facing the penalty after ignoring previous warnings, according to The Hill.

In a statement, Mast said he's following the recent guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency said last week that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face covering due to being at significantly reduced risk of contracting COVID-19.

RELATED: Fully vaccinated can drop the masks, skip social distancing

Politico reports the House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, continues to have policies in place that were implemented at the height of the pandemic much to the ire of Republican members. The outlet said Mast stood up during a GOP meeting Tuesday and told colleagues he's "done" wearing masks even if it meant being fined.

Members face a $500 penalty for the first offense and $2,500 the second. It's money that's deducted from their salaries, Politico said.

"The truth is, from this moment on, Americans must ignore lies and start to listen to scientists. The scientists at the CDC are telling us if you are fully vaccinated, you can go about your life without wearing a mask or physically distancing. So, that's what I'm doing," Mast said in a statement. "The question people should be asking is why is Speaker Pelosi not? 

"For her, this has never been about science, it's always been about power and control over the American people."

Dr. Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida who specializes in health data, says there’s a growing body of evidence showing the risk of being infected with COVID-19 or transmitting the virus is low for a fully vaccinated person.

"I think if fully vaccinated people are adhering to these new guidelines and if people who are not yet fully vaccinated are still wearing masks and socially distancing then it does make a lot of sense," Salemi said, referring to the revised CDC guidelines.

"We’ve known for a while now there’s a lot of safety for fully vaccinated people but the challenge just becomes when there are still so many unvaccinated people."

All 219 Democratic members of the House have said they are fully vaccinated, according to CNN, compared to 95 of 212 Republican members. There were 112 Republican members who did not respond to the network.

Continued real-world studies of all three vaccines approved in the U.S. have shown efficacy rates similar to the clinical trials. 

RELATED: These stores are no longer requiring masks for fully vaccinated customers

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