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Vice President Pence wore a face mask to a public briefing on Tuesday where the message from the surgeon general and others was clear: Americans should to do the same while in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Pence appeared at the U.S. Health Service Commission Corps headquarters in Rockville, Md., joined by other members of the White House’s coronavirus task force, including Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

The vice president and others removed their masks only when delivering remarks.

“When you do not wear your face covering, we end up in a situation where you see higher rates of disease spread and you end up having to close places,” Adams said. “This mask, this face covering, actually is an instrument of freedom for Americans if we all use it.”

The latest message comes as coronavirus cases in states in the South and West continue to rise. It also comes on the same day that Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the task force, warned that the U.S., which is seeing 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day, could more than double that figure if the public fails to heed guidelines.

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