Azar Dodges When Grilled On Trump’s Refusal To Wear Mask As Coronavirus Cases Surge

on January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee, testifies before the Senate Finance Committee January 9, 2018. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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June 28, 2020 4:30 p.m.
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HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Sunday wouldn’t answer whether President Trump is undercutting the message of health officials that masks should be worn in public to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

When pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on whether Trump is undermining his administration’s health officials by refusing to wear a mask, and citing Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) saying earlier Sunday that it would “help” if the President wore a mask to stop the political debate surrounding the matter as coronavirus cases surge in several cities, Azar sidestepped the question.

“I am the President’s health secretary and I am telling people just what President Trump has said from day one in the reopening guidelines,” Azar said. “Social distance, wear facial covering where you can’t practice social distancing, engage in appropriate personal hygiene.”

Azar later added that people should “examine your own individual circumstances” whenever they’re out in public.

Azar echoed his sentiments during an interview on MSNBC on Sunday.

When MSNBC’s Chuck Todd pressed Azar on Trump contradicting public health officials regarding mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Azar once again brought up that he’s the President’s secretary of health.

“I’m telling you, practice social distancing where you can’t appropriately social distance,” Azar said. “We encourage you to wear a facial covering. The Vice President of the United States stood on stage, walked up on stage wearing a mask even though he doesn’t need to, in the sense that everyone around him is tested and he’s in a bubble.”

After Todd brought up Trump’s decision to hold two indoor campaign rallies in the last week, he grilled Azar for avoiding his question on whether he’s asked the President to “at least ask the country to wear a mask.”

Azar dodged by saying that he’s “not going to talk about politics” but that he is encouraging those who are participating in any large gathering to “consider your individual circumstance.”

“Consider the circumstance of those you live with and take appropriate precautions that are appropriate to yourself and your community,” Azar said.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
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