Trump wears mask in pub­lic for first time dur­ing pan­demic

Enterprise-Record (Chico) - - NEWS - By Jonathan Lemire

WASH­ING­TON » Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wore a mask dur­ing a visit to a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal on Satur­day, the first time the pres­i­dent has been seen in pub­lic with the type of fa­cial cov­er­ing rec­om­mended by health of­fi­cials as a precaution against spread­ing or be­com­ing in­fected by the novel coro­n­avirus.

Trump flew by he­li­copter to Wal­ter Reed Na­tional Mil­i­tary Med­i­cal Cen­ter in sub­ur­ban Wash­ing­ton to meet wounded ser­vice­mem­bers and health care providers car­ing for COVID-19 pa­tients. As he left the White House, he told re­porters: “When you’re in a hos­pi­tal, es­pe­cially ... I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask.”

Trump was wear­ing a mask in Wal­ter Reed’s hall­way as he be­gan his visit. He was not wear­ing one when he stepped off the he­li­copter at the fa­cil­ity.

The pres­i­dent was a late­comer to wear­ing a mask dur­ing the pan­demic, which has raged across the U.S. since March and in­fected more than 3.2 mil­lion and killed at least 134,000. Most prom­i­nent Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, en­dorsed wear­ing masks as the coro­n­avirus gained ground this sum­mer. Repub­li­can gov­er­nors have been mov­ing to­ward re­quir­ing or en­cour­ag­ing the use of masks as the pan­demic has grown more se­ri­ous in some states in the South and West.

Trump, how­ever, has de­clined to wear a mask at news con­fer­ences, coro­n­avirus task force up­dates, ral­lies and other pub­lic events. Peo­ple close to him have told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the pres­i­dent feared a mask would make him look weak and was con­cerned that it shifted fo­cus to the pub­lic health cri­sis rather than the eco­nomic re­cov­ery. They spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to de­scribe pri­vate mat­ters.

While not wear­ing one him­self, Trump has sent mixed sig­nals about masks, ac­knowl­edg­ing that they would be ap­pro­pri­ate if worn in an in­door set­ting where peo­ple were close to­gether. But he has ac­cused re­porters of wear­ing them to be po­lit­i­cally cor­rect and has retweeted mes­sages mak­ing fun of Demo­cratic ri­val Joe Bi­den for wear­ing a mask and im­ply­ing that Bi­den looks weak.

Ques­tions re­main whether Trump will wear a mask with any reg­u­lar­ity.

The wear­ing of masks be­came an­other political di­vid­ing line, with Repub­li­cans more re­sis­tant to wear­ing them than Democrats. Few masks were seen at re­cent Trump campaign events in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa, Phoenix and South Dakota’s Mount Rush­more.

The only time Trump has been known to wear a mask was dur­ing a pri­vate part of a tour of a Ford plant in Michi­gan.

A spokesman for the Bi­den campaign cast the pres­i­dent’s ac­tion as too lit­tle, too late.

“Don­ald Trump spent months ig­nor­ing the ad­vice of med­i­cal ex­perts and politi­ciz­ing wear­ing a mask, one of the most im­por­tant things we can do to pre­vent the spread of the virus,” spokesman An­drew Bates said in a state­ment. “Rather than tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity and lead­ing, he wasted four months that Amer­i­cans have been mak­ing sac­ri­fices by stok­ing di­vi­sions and ac­tively dis­cour­ag­ing peo­ple from tak­ing a very ba­sic step to pro­tect each other.”


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wears a mask as he walks down the hall­way dur­ing his visit to Wal­ter Reed Na­tional Mil­i­tary Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Bethesda, Md., on Satur­day.

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