After months of opposition to protective masks and refusing to wear them during public appearances, President Trump was photographed wearing one on Saturday. Trump wore the mask during a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he met with wounded armed forces members and healthcare workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I'll probably have a mask, if you must know,” Trump told reporters after the visit. “I'll probably have a mask. I think when you're in a hospital especially in that particular setting, where you are talking to a lot of soldiers, people that in some cases just got off the operating table. I think it's a great thing to wear a mask."
"I've never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place,” Trump said.
Trump led the charge of Republican opposition to face masks in the early days of the pandemic.
With cases surging in many states and with the U.S. leading the world in coronavirus cases, many Republicans have broken with their earlier stance to support the use of masks in public.
Trump himself began to advocate for the use of masks indoors while still refusing to wear them. Those close to Trump claimed that his apprehension came from a fear of looking “weak” to the public, a sentiment echoed by his past mockery of presumptive opponent Joe Biden for his use of masks. Trump has also called the use of masks a ploy by some to be “politically correct” and a distraction from the economic recovery.
“Donald Trump spent months ignoring the advice of medical experts and politicizing wearing a mask, one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of the virus,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said. “Rather than taking responsibility and leading, he wasted four months that Americans have been making sacrifices by stoking divisions and actively discouraging people from taking a very basic step to protect each other.”