President Trump on Thursday went without a mask during a visit to a Pennsylvania medical equipment distribution center, even as other government officials in his party wore face coverings around the facility.
The president toured and made remarks at Owens & Minor Inc. in Allentown to tout his administration’s work in producing and distributing personal protective equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic. The distribution center has sent millions of N95 masks, surgical gowns and gloves to hospitals around the country.
Trump’s decision not to wear a mask was particularly noticeable given he was surrounded by people who wore them. Photos showed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and supply chain leader Rear Adm. John Polowczyk with face coverings. Each employee on the floor to listen to Trump’s remarks wore one as well.
The president has not worn a mask on camera to date, even as his own White House has directed officials in the West Wing to wear one when social distancing isn’t possible.
Trump did not wear a face covering last week during a trip to an Arizona Honeywell factory that was producing masks, despite saying that he would. An official said at the time the White House was advised masks weren’t necessary, though signs indicated they were required for employees.
Vice President Pence faced criticism for not wearing a mask during a trip to the Mayo Clinic last month. He acknowledged he should have worn a face covering, and has been spotted wearing a mask multiple times since.
The White House has defended Trump’s decision not to wear a face covering by noting that he is tested daily for coronavirus and has tested negative. Officials argue that face coverings are intended to prevent infected individuals from spreading the virus, so a mask would be immaterial for someone who is not a carrier.
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