President Donald Trump donned a mask at a military medical facility outside Washington where he visited wounded soldiers and front-line health-care workers.
The visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center marked Trump’s first public appearance with a face covering since the virus began sweeping across the United States earlier this year.
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) July 11, 2020
Trump had previously refused to wear a mask in public or ask other Americans to do so, saying it was a personal choice, although he had said he would if he was in a crowd and could not maintain distance from others.
“I think when you are in a hospital, especially in that particular setting when 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,” Trump told reporters at the White House just before his visit to Walter Reed.
At the medical facility, Trump walked through media for a carefully staged photo opportunity wearing a navy blue mask emblazoned with a presidential seal embossed in gold. He said only “thank you” as he passed.
Top public health officials have urged the use of masks to slow the spread of the virus, which by Friday had claimed nearly 134,000 American lives. Critics say Trump’s refusal to wear one showed a lack of leadership.
The respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus has topped over 3 million infections in the States.