The highly contagious virus that's killed nearly 100 thousand Americans manifests in different ways. Months into the outbreak, medical experts discovered that while some of the infected experienced brutal symptoms requiring a ventilator, many of those who tested positive showed no symptoms at all.
As a result, health officials in the United States warned that everyone needed to spend as much time as possible in their homes. They also stressed the importance of wearing masks or other facial coverings when in public.
The masks aren't to keep the wearer from contracting the virus, but to keep potential asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus to others.
When President Donald Trump announced these new guidelines early last month, he stressed that these were just recommendations and that he wouldn't be wearing one himself. In a recent visit to a PPE factory in Michigan, the President wore a mask in private, but said he wouldn't "give the press the pleasure" of seeing him in a mask, implying that a mask made him look weak.
The President's presumptive 2020 Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, took a different approach this Memorial Day, wearing a black face mask and his trademark Aviator sunglasses as he and his wife—Dr. Jill Biden—placed a wreath at a veterans' memorial near his house in Delaware. It was the first time he'd emerged in public in two months.
Biden's choice to wear a face mask caught the attention of Fox News's Brit Hume, who said it illustrated why Trump didn't want to wear one.
This might help explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public. Biden today. https://t.co/9l1gw1ljBE— Brit Hume (@Brit Hume) 1590445208.0
If Hume's intent was to say Biden looked weak, he was met with widespread disagreement.
A President takes measures to protect others. That's what a mask does. That's what a competent President would ha… https://t.co/t741upMFRa— Ronald Klain (@Ronald Klain) 1590449642.0
He looks like a leader during a pandemic to me. People who are actually tough are not afraid of being made fun of l… https://t.co/emZPocRQ1p— Brian Schatz (@Brian Schatz) 1590446303.0
Seems to me that demonstrating the simple decency & courtesy exhibited by tens of millions of Americans toward our… https://t.co/7drsYGL1Nz— Ben Mankiewicz (@Ben Mankiewicz) 1590451420.0
This looks like strong, responsible, evidence based, leadership. This is not a reality tv show. It is behaving r… https://t.co/frFr9kagli— Valerie Jarrett (@Valerie Jarrett) 1590451086.0
Hume was quickly met with intense backlash from the Twittersphere, with thousands chastising him for downplaying health expert recommendations in order to please the President.
This tweet reveals a lot about you and very little about Biden. https://t.co/m3XYdtaC7k— Daniel W. Drezner (@Daniel W. Drezner) 1590453576.0
If you ever doubted that toxic masculinity is a thing, here's FNC's Brit Hume saying men whose public actions guide… https://t.co/C6IOWN1TVT— Seth Abramson (@🏠) (@Seth Abramson (@🏠)) 1590453749.0
Do you ever ask yourself, if I’m gonna tweet something like this, might fewer people opt to wear a mask in public?… https://t.co/08HhJtkHP6— Billy Freeland (@Billy Freeland) 1590449991.0
Besides, if it's looks that Brit is concerned with, people pointed out that Biden actually looks pretty cool.
Brit Hume thinks this looks weak. Normal people think it looks both compassionate and badass at the same time. https://t.co/tWJUf4cDaR— David Atkins (@David Atkins) 1590448458.0
I know. He looks totally badass. 45 couldn't compete. https://t.co/kp1u982IzH— GirlPowerDon'tQuit (@GirlPowerDon'tQuit) 1590453287.0
I don’t get it this looks badass https://t.co/ExKgVSPHVC— Fiber Optic (@Fiber Optic) 1590464790.0
Nevertheless, Trump retweeted Hume's post to his 80 million followers, bolstering the implication that masks are an unnecessary sign of weakness.