President Trump on Wednesday finally said that he supports wearing masks, after many Republican lawmakers spent the past week urging the public to adopt the practice in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 as cases spike in several cities.
The President, who has yet to sport a mask in public, has repeatedly expressed his reluctance to wear masks. The White House had punted to local officials to mandate mask wearing requirements even as coronavirus cases surge.
On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the President “would encourage everyone to follow the orders of their local jurisdiction and CDC guidelines” on masks, despite Vice President Mike Pence saying the day before that he’d “strongly reiterate” mask wearing wherever it’s impossible to practice social distancing.
Republican lawmakers — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mitt Romney (R-UT); and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) — have recently called on the public to wear masks. Alexander went so far as to double down on asking Trump to wear and encourage masks to “end this political debate.”
When asked during an interview on Fox Business Network Wednesday about why he hasn’t gone forward with a nationwide mask mandate, in light of a Goldman Sachs report that universal mask wearing would be a net positive for GDP in addition to saving lives, Trump wouldn’t commit to making mask requirements mandatory.
“I don’t know if you need mandatory because you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance,” Trump said, referring to social distancing practices.
Trump then declared that he’s “all for masks,” which he thinks are “good” and added that he would wear if he’s in close proximity to a group of people.
Pressed on whether he would actually wear one, Trump claimed that he would because he has before.
“Oh, I would, I have. I mean, people have seen me wearing one,” Trump said, without clarifying who he’s referring to. Trump wore a mask in private at a Ford plant in Michigan, where someone snapped a photo of the President wearing a face covering.
In the Fox interview, the President touted that everyone around him gets tested for COVID-19 before seeing him, but added that he’d wear one if he’s “in a tight situation.”
“If I’m in a group of people where we’re not, you know, 10 feet away and, but usually I’m not in that position and everyone is tested,” Trump said. “Because I’m the president, they get tested before they see me. But if I were in a tight situation with people I would absolutely.”
Asked if the public will witness him wearing a mask at some point, Trump replied that he’d “have no problem,” before claiming again that he wore a mask earlier and that he “sort of liked the way” he looked in it.
Watch Trump’s remarks below:
Trump now says he's "all for masks" pic.twitter.com/HdJ0aUZbsX
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) July 1, 2020