A viral video from Texas shows a Republican Party leader speaking at a local rally, calling the coronavirus panic a hoax being perpetrated by Democrats with the goal of hurting Donald Trump, then encouraging people to take off their face masks.
The video showed Bexar County Republican Chairwoman Cynthia Brehm speaking at a political protest against continued restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus. Brehm said that a requirement to wear face coverings is a violation of people's constitutional rights and hinted that the coronavirus panic is being manufactured by Democrats in order to hurt Trump.
"Why is this happening today? And I'll tell you why: all of this has been promulgated by the Democrats to undo all the good President Trump has done for our country — and they are worried," Brehm said, as reported by the San Antonio Current.
"So, take off your masks, exercise your constitutional rights. Stand up, speak up and vote Republican."As the video showed, many of the people in attendance then took off their masks and embraced.
As KENS 5 reported, the rally called out local leaders who had passed a recommendation for people to wear masks and another against hate speech. Brehm pointed out that state leaders had declared that no one could be forced to wear a mask if they didn't want to, noting that the state's attorney general had sent a letter that guidance to wear masks was not in compliance with state orders.
"They asked us to wear masks, and according to Attorney General (Ken) Paxton, this is unconstitutional. So if we don't want to wear masks, this is our choice," she said.
"This is America, and we shouldn't have to be forced or mandated to wear a mask."The rally was set against a backdrop of the controversy surrounding the state, as many have warned that the steps Texas has taken to loosen restrictions were done too soon and too quickly. The state was among the first to lift restrictions, allowing many to reopen on May 1 despite a rising number of both coronavirus cases and deaths at the time.
Brehm herself is no stranger to controversy. As the San Antonio Current noted, she came under fire after an accusation that local officials tampered with election ballots to help a local mayor. She also refused to allow the state's Republican primary to be held at the same time as the Democratic primary, though later allowed this to happen.