President Donald Trump has worn a face mask at his visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. That would be the first time the president would wear a mask in public since the coronavirus pandemic started with over 130,000 deaths and 3.2 million infections in the United States.
The president donned a navy blue mask with a gold presidential seal emblazoned to its side during a visit to injured servicemen and healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients at the hospital. Trump has been known to ignore the use of face masks in public during press conferences, coronavirus task force updates, and at campaign rallies. He however advocates that it is only best used in indoor settings where people are crowded together with no means of maintaining the required six feet distance.
The president’s refusal to wear face masks casts him as a hypocritical leader, given that his health advisers insist that it must be worn by everyone in the country to beat the spread of coronavirus and remains the only way to prevent an infection. Some of his close aides reveal on condition of anonymity that the president fears to wear a face mask because he doesn’t want to appear like a weak and frightened leader. In fact, he accused news reporters of wearing it to remain politically correct.
Before the Saturday visit to Walter Reed, Trump had hinted to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday that he might wear a mask to the hospital, ABC News reported.
“I think when you’re in a hospital, especially in that particular setting, where you’re talking to a lot of soldiers and people that, in some cases, just got off the operating tables, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask,” Trump told reporters. “I’ve never been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a place.”
The president did not wear a mask while speaking to newsmen before leaving the White House for the visit, and he was not wearing one when he stepped out from the helicopter before entering the military hospital. But he put it on in the hallway before embarking on his official visit. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, military personnel, Secret Service agents, and the White House staff with the president all wore face coverings.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that “people wear cloth face coverings in public settings” to curtail the spread of the pandemic since face masks are very effective at blocking contaminated droplets when infected people cough or sneeze.