A controversial Republican congressional candidate, who has previously expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, has insisted that children should not have to wear face masks because it is “emasculating” for boys, according to a report.
On Tuesday, Georgia candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted that “children should not wear masks” flying in the face of recommendations by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), according to CNN.
In the tweet, which has now been removed from the platform, Ms Greene reportedly claimed without evidence that face-coverings are “unhealthy for their psychological, emotional, and educational growth.”
According to the broadcaster, Ms Greene also suggested that “forcing boys to wear masks is emasculating” and that “masculinity isn’t toxic nor dangerous” but “dem Socialism and shutdowns are.”
The tweet has since apparently been forcibly removed from the platform for “violating” the website’s rules. The platform did not specify which of its rule had been broken.
Ms Taylor Greene has not yet responded to The Independent’s request for comment.
More than half a million children have tested positive for the novel coronavirus across the US since the outbreak began in March, and cases among young people are continuing to rise, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
In July the CDC affirmed “that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against Covid-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease.”
CDC Director Dr Robert R Redfield said: “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting.”
“All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities,” the expert added.
More recently, experts have said they believe face masks are contributing to the steady decrease in cases across the country, although cases continue to rise in some states.
“It’s profoundly hopeful news,” said Dr Monica Gandhi, an infectious-diseases expert at the University of California, San Francisco.
The doctor attributes the decline to a number of factors including an understanding of how the virus spreads, more mask-wearing and, possibly, an increasing level of immunity.
“Hopefully all those factors are coming into play to get this virus under control in this country that’s really been battered by the pandemic,” she said.
However, experts also warn that the public must continue to take the pandemic seriously as flu season and colder weather draw closer in the winter months.
“This rapid rise in positive cases occurred over the summer, and as the weather cools, we know people will spend more time indoors,” Dr Sean O’Leary, the vice chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, said in a news release.
“Now we are heading into flu season. We must take this seriously and implement the public health measures we know can help,” Dr O’Leary added.
“That includes wearing masks, avoiding large crowds, and maintaining social distance. In addition, it will be really important for everyone to get an influenza vaccine this year. These measures will help protect everyone, including children.”
The virus has infected more than 6.35 million people across the US and had led to the deaths of 190,000.
Ms Taylor Greene has previously come under fire for her inflammatory remarks about two Muslim congresswomen and support of the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon.
NBC News reported in August that she wrote dozens of articles as a “correspondent” for a conspiracy news website, speaking favourably of the theory.
She has since tried to distance herself from QAnon, which promotes the belief that the president is secretly working to save the world from a satanic cult of paedophiles and cannibals.
On Friday, the candidate also had a post removed from Facebook on the grounds that it violated the social media platform’s policy against inciting violence.
The photo illustration showed Ms Taylor Greene in Georgia posing with a rifle next to pictures of Democratic House Representatives: Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
“Hate America leftists want to take this country down,” she wrote, later adding, “We need strong conservative Christians to go on the offence against these socialists who want to rip our country apart.”
Rep Omar said the post was catalysing death threats. “Posting a photo with an assault rifle next to the faces of three women of colour is not advertising,” she said in a statement. “It’s incitement.”
Ms Taylor Greene is favoured to win the election in a deeply conservative district northwest of Atlanta in the upcoming election in November, facing Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal.