Due to the high amount of asymptomatic carriers of the virus that's killed over 95 thousand Americans, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people wear masks or other face coverings in public to avoid potentially spreading the virus to others if they're an asymptomatic carrier.
President Donald Trump, when announcing this new recommendation last month, accompanied it with the caveats that it was only a recommendation and that he himself likely wouldn't be wearing one.
The vow not to wear a mask is one of the few he's consistently kept.
According to Trump's latest White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, Trump doesn't need to wear a mask because he's tested every day and can't spread the virus to others.
Also according to Kayleigh McEnany, testing every American for the virus is "nonsensical" because one can contract the virus as little as minutes after getting a test.
This contradiction aside, the President didn't wear a mask on Thursday in a visit to a Ford factory in the swing state of Michigan. The factory was recently repurposed to manufacture vital personal protective equipment (PPE), and it requires employees and visitors to wear masks in the building.
Trump was asked about his decision to go against the policy—and said he actually did wear a mask.
"I didn't wanna give the press the pleasure of seeing it...but in the back area I did put the mask on."
The controversy over his decision and the example it set forced Ford into making a statement as well.
New @ford statement on @realdonaldtrump and masks at plant https://t.co/Z1QppZoq1A— davidshepardson (@davidshepardson) 1590095770.0
Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nessel was much less neutral about the matter:
"He is a petulant child who refuses to follow the rules. This is not a joke."
Actions like Trump's dismissal of the need for masks shifted safety measures recommended by health experts into political statements. Many influencers in pro-Trump conspiracy theory circles—such as vlogger Brenden Dilley—say that "forcing" people to wear mask is the media's attempt at beginning to control society with so-called hysteria.
Trump's claim that the media—whom he says is always conspiring against him—would get pleasure from seeing him in a mask implies that wearing a mask is a sign of weakness, rather than a valid precaution. It only further amplifies these right wing notions that masks are malicious.
Trump's answer was, sadly, par for his course.
The pettiness oh Lord. https://t.co/sPfEmlw11W— Miguel Inclan (@Miguel Inclan) 1590096625.0
@realDonaldTrump really is an insecure, little, pathetic baby! What is his F-ing problem with wearing a mask??? Wi… https://t.co/uXCZMjVbg0— Immigrant 63Mars (@Immigrant 63Mars) 1590096567.0
He refuses to wear a mask so he doesn't look stupid in front of the media but sports that ridiculous hairstyle and… https://t.co/ACD3YqmUgy— Phil GP - Ring fence maternity & midwives (@Phil GP - Ring fence maternity & midwives) 1590096606.0
Trust me, you've never given anyone pleasure. https://t.co/de8DXudXF9— K.S. Carr (@K.S. Carr) 1590094262.0
Trump later showed the press the mask he claimed to have been wearing—prompting further ridicule.
“Put a condom on? It’s in my wallet, isn’t that good enough??” https://t.co/vj0LeSyYWO— Santa Claus, CEO (@Santa Claus, CEO) 1590093242.0
Trump carries around a protective medical device, saying he’s got it right there, but he never actually puts it on.… https://t.co/7WDF5iieXP— Eric Kleefeld (@Eric Kleefeld) 1590094068.0
.@realDonaldTrump Hi. The mask does not work to prevent you from infecting people unless IT IS ON YOUR FACE. https://t.co/xh1NhEw0wN— Jodi Jacobson 🩸🦷 (@Jodi Jacobson 🩸🦷) 1590094449.0
When it comes to masks, take the advice of health experts over the advice of the President. Please.