First lady Melania Trump on Tuesday tweeted a photo of herself wearing a white face mask, urging Americans to wear face coverings and practice social distancing in a move that appeared to diverge from her husband’s political war on mask-wearing.
“Even in the summer months, please remember to wear face coverings & practice social distancing,” the first lady tweeted Tuesday. “The more precaution we take now can mean a healthier & safer country in the Fall.” Melania Trump has tweeted the same image earlier this spring while advocating for face-coverings.
Even in the summer months, please remember to wear face coverings & practice social distancing. The more precaution we take now can mean a healthier & safer country in the Fall. pic.twitter.com/80dGOWIyDJ
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) July 14, 2020
The first lady’s remarks come after President Donald Trump was spotted in a rare scene — wearing a mask publicly — at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday while visiting injured veterans.
Prior to that visit, Trump had refused to wear a mask or advocate for their use, implying his political opponents looked weak while wearing masks, and mocking reporters in masks accusing them of wanting to appear “politically correct.” As recently as last Thursday, before his visit to the hospital, the President told Fox News commentator Sean Hannity that he thought Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wore a mask because he liked the way it made him look. Trump also teased the former vice president for wearing “the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Trump has repeatedly made face masks into a political prop in spite of evidence that wearing a mask can help curb the spread of the coronavirus as cases climb across the Unites States and more than 135,000 lives have been lost in the U.S. due to COVID-19, according to the CDC. But the President has become increasingly isolated in his attempts at knocking mask-wearing. While there were some early-adopters, as cases have continued to increase some Republicans who were reluctant to defend mask-wearing have joined the chorus to reinforce the official CDC guideline.
Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) endorsed wearing face masks as part of a “new middle ground” between a return to normal life and strict coronavirus restrictions.
“We must have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people. Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on June 29.
Republican Senator Mark Rubio (FL), too, told reporters in June “everyone should just wear a damn mask.”
In a coronavirus briefing for Mecklenburg County in North Carolina on Monday, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said “the most powerful weapon” Americans have in defense against the coronavirus are face coverings.
“If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four to six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground,” Redfield said.