President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will wear a mask as a precaution against coronavirus, if required to do so, during a trip later in the day to a Honeywell factory in Arizona that is manufacturing masks.
Trump, who has refused to wear a mask in recent weeks despite federal guidance calling for Americans to wear one when in public, said it would wear a mask at the Phoenix factory if it is mandatory for people there.
“I think it’s a masked facility,” Trump told reporters at the White House before departing for his trip to Honeywell.
“If it’s a masked facility, I will. I don’t know if it’s a masked facility,” he said.
Later, before boarding Air Force 1 to fly to Phoenix, Trump was asked if he had decided to wear a mask at Honeywell’s facility.
“No, I haven’t decided because I don’t know is it a — if it’s a mask environment, I would certainly do that. I’ll know when I get there,” the president said. “But I would wear it. If it’s a mask environment, I would have no problem.”
When a reporter asked if it was important for him to wear a mask, Trump said, “I’m supposed to make a speech. You’ll tell me: Should I leave the mask on when I’m speaking?”
“I don’t know. I just — it doesn’t sound right. But if it’s a mask environment, I would certainly wear a mask.”
When a reporter asked if he had any concerns about the people traveling with him Tuesday, Trump said that everyone with him had been tested for the coronavirus, or “they wouldn’t be allowed to travel with me.”
Honeywell’s facility is making millions of N95 masks for the U.S. government.
Vice President Mike Pence drew heavy criticism last week when he toured the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and did not wear a mask despite a policy there requiring masks for all staff, patients and visitors.
But two days after that, Pence did wear a mask during a visit to a General Motors plant in Indiana that is making ventilators to help meet demand from hospitals treating patients with Covid-19.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs on travel to Phoenix, Arizona from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, May 5, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Pence, after his visit to the Mayo Clinic, explained his decision not to wear a mask there by saying that he was regularly tested for the coronavirus, and has been shown to be negative, so he did not have to wear one because he would not transmit the virus to others.
But experts have said the tests can show inaccurate results, and that there is a risk of infection in between tests.
Trump has previously said he would not wear a mask or other face covering.
Last month, he announced new guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending cloth face coverings in some public areas, but said “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
The CDC guidance says, “Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.”
Trump, who has previously advocated wearing scarves in public, said during an April 3 press briefing that he didn’t think he would wear one himself.
“I’m feeling good. I just don’t want to be doing – somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself,” he said.
“I just don’t.”
But he added: “Maybe I’ll change my mind.”