White House to give away 300k face masks at 4th of July celebrations but Trump won't advise people to wear them
With the US set to witness its 244th Independence Day on July 4, authorities are more tense than happy over the prospects of people assembling in large numbers to celebrate the occasion. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, for instance, has banned the display of fireworks on Saturday as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus. More than 2.7 million people in the country have been affected by the deadly virus while over 128,000 have lost their lives.
However, the role of the White House has been inconspicuous. While President Donald Trump’s I-Day celebration on the National Mall will see as many as 300,000 face masks distributed to people who want them, the White House will still not advise anyone to wear them. Trump has planned a mega July 4 celebration featuring a fireworks display despite the city mayor’s concern that it could see a spike in coronavirus cases. The issue has snowballed into a controversy with more than 50,000 positive cases reported on Wednesday, July 1.
"We know this is a special event for the Department of Interior. We've communicated to them that we do not think this is in keeping with the best CDC and Department of Health guidance. But this event will take place entirely on federal property," Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is known for not being in the best of terms with Trump, said in a news conference.
'Salute to America' will be Trump's 'patriotic tribute' to uniformed forces
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt declared the mask-distribution plan while unveiling the July 4 celebration schedule. In a statement, he said the program includes "multiple flight demonstrations from different branches of our military, in particular, the US Air Force Thunderbirds and the US Navy Blue Angels, as well as a monumental firework display."
The show, which will continue for little over half-an-hour, will include more than 10,000 fireworks. The event is the second ‘Salute to America’ after the Trump administration organized the first edition in July last year. Trump and Melania will host a viewing party on the White House's South Lawn, an event that will follow the first couple's visit to Mount Rushmore for a fireworks event on Friday, July 3, the eve of I-Day.
That visit has also courted controversy as local people have feared further spread of the pandemic. Bernhardt said the 'Salute to America' event will mark Trump's "patriotic tribute" to America's men and women in uniform.
Trump has been criticized throughout for not wearing masks and has remained stubborn to not wear it. Recently, his supporters were asked to ensure that they would not blame either Trump or his campaign or other affiliates if they contracted the virus while attending his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On Wednesday, however, the president said in an interview with Fox Business Network that he would wear a mask "in a tight situation".
"I'd have no problem. Actually, I had a mask on, I sort of liked the way I looked, I thought it was OK. It was a dark, black mask and I thought it looked OK. It looked like the 'Lone Ranger'," he said. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday said the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on masks do not make it mandatory to wear them.
"The president has said that we should follow our local authorities with masks, so that's the decision. He encourages people to follow those authorities. CDC guidelines, I’d also note, say recommended but not required and we are very much looking forward to the Fourth of July celebration," she said.