I was watching the Amy Coney Barrett hearings yesterday (October 12; today is October 13th 2020), and I noticed how none of the senators present were wearing masks. In her address, Kamala Harris, while also herself not wearing a mask, noted how dangerous it was for the members of the Senate to be present for the hearing, given that Covid-19 is so prevalent that even the President himself, with all his security detail, could contract the virus. I presume that the senators are seated 6 feet apart in the hearing chamber (I couldn't tell based on the layout of the cameras), but I can't think of a good reason why they should not also be masked, as Senator Harris suggested, nor can I understand why the hearing could not be done virtually so as to restrict the contact that each Senator had with others.
Furthermore, when Judge Barrett was asked to speak, she was asked to remove her mask before speaking as well; although she was silent the whole time the Senators were making their opening statements, she was asked to remove her mask when speaking. All logic and public health advice seems to suggest the opposite should be the case: When speaking, one should wear a mask, as one may eject aerosols with their breath, but when silent one ejects fewer particles and therefore it's "safer" to not wear a mask when silent.
So my questions are, by most-least important (the top question is the main question; if this question is viewed as "too broad" then feel free to answer only the first one):
- Why were the attendants of the hearing not masked (what laws/procedures prevent this, or, alternately, was masking simply deemed unnecessary by the members)?
- Why was the hearing not done virtually (what are the stated arguments by the members)?
- Why, despite knowing the answers to the above 2 questions, did Senator Harris make an issue out of the health precautions in her opening address (this may require some opinion, unsure if there are any sources on this)?