Former Democratic governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, was caught violating federal COVID health rules without a mask during an Amtrak trip from New York to Washington, DC, according to photos that surfaced Tuesday.
McAuliffe led Virginia from 2014 to 2018 and is currently campaigning for a second term in the upcoming November election.
But the pro-mask-mandated Democrat was accused of “absolute double standards” by an anonymous Amtrak passenger who handed over the photos to Fox.
The photos show McAuliffe on July 29 in the Moynihan Train Hall of Penn Station in New York City.
He was seen walking through the train terminal while talking on his phone.
There is no sign of a face covering, despite the January Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) directive requiring everyone passing through airports, train stations and other transit hubs to wear one at all times.
The CDC also recommends wearing masks, regardless of vaccination status, if you live in a COVID hotspot.
McAuliffe expressed strong support for incumbent Governor Ralph Northam, also a Democrat, when he mandated masks for students and school staff regardless of vaccination status.
In this photo, obtained by Fox, McAuliffe appears to be talking on the phone at New York’s Penn Station without a mask. The CDC ordered all travelers to wear masks in transit hubs starting January
“Terry believes we should do everything we can to keep our children safe as they return to school in person this fall, and he believes that everyone should follow CDC guidelines when wearing masks and getting vaccinated.” , a spokesperson for his campaign told the BBC. time related to Northam’s order.
The CDC guideline on face masks would apply to ’98 percent of the [Virginia] provinces, regardless of the vaccination status of individuals,” said the New York Times coronavirus tracker.
The passenger who shared the photos with Fox told the outlet they didn’t recognize McAuliffe at first, but he looked “familiar.”
They said they took the photo while waiting in line to board the train.
The gubernatorial candidate reportedly wore “no mask on the escalator to the platform” as he continued his appeal.
A second photo shows McAuliffe walking down an aisle while on the phone. He was still maskless.
Behind a crouched McAuliffe Amtrak mask, guidance can be seen, generally displayed on every railcar for all passengers to take note.
Another photo shows McAuliffe leaning over in the train aisles, still maskless, in front of a sign asking customers to wear masks
The sign is on most Amtrak rail cars
“Amtrak requires everyone to wear a face mask,” the sign reads. “Face masks should completely cover the mouth and nose and should be secured under the chin. Face masks should always be worn unless actively eating or drinking.’
The train company’s website states that wearing a face mask in the train and in the station is mandatory at all times by ‘federal legislation’.
“We happened to be in the same train car and I took the second photo. We took our seats and I didn’t get up for the rest of the trip, so I can’t talk to what he did or didn’t do during the trip, regarding wearing a mask,” the passenger said.
They noted that the few passengers who also shared the train car all wore masks.
“I’ve been vaccinated, but Amtrak tells me to put on a mask, so I’ll put on a mask,” the person said.
They added that McAuliffe “put himself forward” by being the only person around without a mask on.
“You’ve got someone here in the United States who wants to be a leader of a state, and that’s an absolute double standard. You have to lead by example,” they said. ‘Nowadays there is no longer any accountability to politicians and that frustrates people.’
McAuliffe has been a staunch advocate of following CDC guidelines, especially since launching his reelection campaign
When the train arrived in Washington, DC’s McAuliffe Union Station was not wearing a mask, according to the passenger, although it was unclear whether he put one on after or between the photos.
“I remember thinking I should say something to him, but I didn’t want to start an incident or viral issue,” they said.
One of the main issues separating McAuliffe from his Republican gubernatorial challenger Glenn Youngkin is the Democrat’s embrace of COVID health restrictions.
McAuliffe’s Twitter feed is full of statements urging Americans to get vaccinated against COVID. It also shows that he wears a mask at indoor events when not speaking.
His opponent, Youngkin, has already disobeyed face-covering rules in January, but he has always been a staunch opponent of COVID mandates.
Youngkin called Northam’s mask mandate “the first step towards a return to a complete shutdown of our economy.”
When DailyMail.com reached out to McAuliffe’s campaign for comment, spokesperson Renzo Olivari responded with a statement criticizing Youngkin for not following CDC guidelines himself.
Glenn Youngkin has shown Virginians that he will be a failure when it comes to managing this pandemic and rebuilding Virginia’s economy. Glenn has an extensive history of failing to follow CDC mask guidelines dating back to the worst spells of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he is peddling such dangerous anti-vaxx and anti-mask rhetoric that doctors in Virginia have begged him to stop undermining measures that prevent the spread of this virus.
A statement sent to DailyMail.com by McAuliffe’s team makes no mention of the photos, but criticizes his opponent Glenn Youngkin’s record on COVID and the economy
“Terry is the only candidate in this race who has a plan to vaccinate Virginians, keep our kids in school, and create a brighter future for all Virginians,” Olivari said.
The candidates will enter the debate stage on Thursday.
Like many states across the country, Virginia is struggling with a summer surge in coronavirus fueled by the highly contagious Delta strain.
Over the past two weeks, the Times tracker shows an 11 percent increase in the state’s COVID cases. The number of deaths rose by 19 percent and the number of hospitalizations increased by a whopping 26 percent.
Virginia has seen more than 811,000 COVID cases and just over 12,000 Virginians have died from the disease.
More than 41 million cases have been reported across the US since the start of the pandemic. More than 660,000 people have died.
But hopeful signs have shown that the summer wave is slowing down. Yet about 1,500 people are still dying each day – the most since the winter peak.