During a visit to a Ford plant in Michigan Thursday, President Donald Trump made very clear that he doesn’t want to be seen wearing a face mask. The government that Trump leads, however, wants all Americans to wear face coverings in public; it’s even purchasing tens of millions of dollars’ worth of them. Most states now require, by law, people to wear masks in public spaces to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It’s one of the concessions of trying to reopen parts of the economy and restart daily life. But the president of the United States won’t do it. Actually, that’s not totally accurate—Trump briefly wore a mask during a portion of his visit to the plant that’s been refitted to produce ventilators, but then stripped it off for the public portions of his visit, including a roundtable about vulnerable populations with black leaders.
Ford says company execs “encouraged” Trump to wear a mask upon arrival after notifying the White House previously of its updated safety measures aimed at protecting workers. That worked briefly, executive chairman Bill Ford said in a statement before explaining that “the president later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit.”
When Trump emerged from the tour to address the media, everyone was wearing a face covering except the president. “I wore one in this back area, but I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump told reporters, showing off a dark-blue mask with a presidential seal. Trump said he later took it off because Ford executives said he could. “I had one on in an area where they preferred it, so I put it on and it was very nice. But they said, ‘Not necessary here,’ ” Trump said. When Bill Ford was asked to confirm this, he responded: “It’s up to him.”
“I think I look better in the mask,” Trump joked to reporters during the visit. “I’m making a speech, so I won’t have it on now.” The state’s governor and attorney general sharply criticized Trump’s unwillingness to abide by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order requiring face coverings. This is the same president that said he is taking the unproven, potentially dangerous treatment hydroxychloroquine as a precautionary measure after a number of infections in the White House.