Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter pose in face masks and call on the public to save lives

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The Carter Center released photo of Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter wearing masks

(CNN) — Former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter on Saturday urged the American people to “please wear a mask to save lives” as the country continues to battle the deadly coronavirus.

The couple’s Atlanta-based charity, the Carter Center, posted a photo on Twitter Saturday of the pair wearing white masks printed with the center’s logo. The picture was paired with the straightforward plea.

Masks have become a political flash point as some Americans argue the requirement infringes upon their civil liberties. But the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges everyone to wear a “cloth face cover when they have to go out in public,” noting that masks are critical “in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms.”

The Carters’ message follows Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ Friday announcement that the city is rolling back its reopening to Phase 1 and will mandate face coverings. The decision left her at odds with Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

Cases have recently raged across the South, and Georgia added a record 4,484 new coronavirus case reports in one day, according to the state’s department of public health on Friday.

President Donald Trump has so far refused to wear a mask in public and done little to encourage his supporters to embrace the public health measure. He has, however, said he will wear a mask during a visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center on Saturday.

Carter, a Democrat, has before appealed to the public to do its part during the pandemic. In March, the former president asked donors to “forgo (their) next gift” to the Carter Center and instead support local groups working to ease the “suffering caused” by the pandemic.

The Carters established the Carter Center in 1982 in Atlanta, with initiatives that include fighting diseases in developing countries. One of the key accomplishments of the Carter Center is the near-eradication of Guinea worm disease from an estimated 3.5 million cases in 1986 to 54 provisional cases in 2019.

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