SAN ANTONIO – A photo of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz without a mask on during a recent flight prompted a major airline company to look into the matter.
The picture, snapped by another passenger on the American Airlines plane, was taken Sunday as Cruz was flying to Dallas from Houston, according to Business Insider. Another photo showed Cruz without a face covering at the gate while waiting to board the flight.
American Airlines policy requires passengers to wear face coverings on flights to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
A spokesman for Cruz said he had his mask off while sipping coffee and put it back on afterward as is consistent with the airline’s policy.
“To help promote safety, Senator Cruz wears a mask when traveling, and practices social distancing where possible,” the spokesman told Business Insider.
The photo was shared more than 35,000 times on Twitter, and garnered a response from San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro, who urged Cruz to wear a mask. Castro’s step-mother died from COVID-19 last week, he announced on social media.
“.@SenTedCruz, my dad just tested positive again for COVID after his wife, my stepmom, died last Friday from it,” Castro wrote. “As you know, the virus is surging in Texas. It would help all of us if we all wear a mask in public. Will you please wear a mask out of courtesy to others?”
.@SenTedCruz, my dad just tested positive again for COVID after his wife, my stepmom, died last Friday from it.— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 13, 2020
As you know, the virus is surging in Texas. It would help all of us if we all wear a mask in public. Will you please wear a mask out of courtesy to others? https://t.co/8Ngy1qix9F
After the photo surfaced, American Airlines issued a statement on Twitter.
“We are committed to protecting the health and safety of all customers, and we are reviewing the details of this matter,” the tweet read.
COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly throughout Texas, which reported more than 9,000 new cases on Sunday.