Trump says coronavirus only kills 'tiny percentage' of people, defends staff not wearing masks: 'I gave them the option'
While the president and HHS secretary appeared maskless at a press meet on Friday, Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx and some other officials wore them
President Donald Trump has personally ditched the idea of wearing a mask as a precaution in the times of the coronavirus pandemic. And when it came to some of the members of his coronavirus task force wearing the face cover at an event in Rose Garden on Friday, May 15, the president said he made it optional. While the commander-in-chief and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar chose to ignore wearing a mask at the event, specialists Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx and Surgeon General Jerome Adams chose to put it on. Some of the top health officials, including Fauci, recently went to quarantine after reportedly coming into contact with some White House staff members who tested positive.
Trump, who recently underwent a test and tested negative, was asked about the lack of uniformity in the officials’ take on wearing the mask. He said: “We've all been tested, I've been tested, we've all been tested and we're quite a distance away and we're outdoors, so I told them, I gave them the option and they could wear it or not. So you can blame it on me.”
Coronavirus kills 'very, very small percentage', says Trump
The 73-year-old president then said the coronavirus kills a ‘very, very small percentage’ of people. The US though has seen more than 1.4 million getting affected by the virus and over 87,000 losing lives. “I say it all the time, it's a tiny percentage,' he said. 'The vast majority - many people don't even know they have it,” the temperamental leader, who made some bizarre claims over the virus in the recent past, said.
Besides Fauci, Birx and Adams, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and CDC Director Robert Redfield were also among those who chose to wear the face-gear. Trump, who arrived at the Rose Garden to update the American people on the vaccines, said one would be available by the end of 2020.
Trump told reporters that he wore a mask ‘backstage’ while visiting the Honeywell plant in Arizona during his visit last week. The plant was producing N95 masks to make up for the shortage amid the pandemic. Trump said he chose not to wear it in front of the cameras. Pence also drew flak recently for not wearing a mask while visiting Mayo Clinic last month but wore one while touring a General Motors plant in Indiana later following a criticism.
Trump, though, is not ready to display the mask under any circumstances. According to a report in Associated Press last week, he told his aides that a ‘wrong message’ would be sent if he put on the facewear. He also felt that images of him wearing a mask would be used in ads launching political attacks on him. When the CDC first advised Americans to wear masks, Trump said it wasn’t for him.
During a press briefing at the White House on April 3, Trump said: “'Well, I just don't want to wear one myself. I just don't want to be doing - I don't know, somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind the 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. I just - I just don't. Maybe I'll change my mind, but this will pass and hopefully it'll pass very quickly.”
Trump family members have also been inconsistent with the mask
Other members of the first family have also come under the scanner over the issue of wearing masks. On Friday, May 15, First Lady Melania Trump was seen accompanying her husband to an event in the White House where they greeted a group of Girl Scouts for their roles in the pandemic response. While the minor recipients of the certificates wore face masks, none of the two Trumps wore one. It was only in April that Melania, 50, advised the people of America to wear face masks by herself wearing one.
Ivanka said she 'always' wears mask when with President Trump
Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, who otherwise is seen sporting a mask on different occasions, said recently that she always wears a mask when she is with the president. But there have been occasions when the father-daughter duo has been seen together at the White House with none covering their face. She even defended Trump’s decision to not wear a mask saying those with him wear a mask and that makes it less necessary for the president to wear one.
Speaking to USA TODAY on Thursday, May 14, Ivanka said on the criticism that the president is facing for not wearing a mask: “There are different procedures as it relates to interacting with the president.” She said the president and those who come into contact with him are tested on a daily basis. She said nobody who is close proximity with the president is without a mask. “I always wear a mask when I am with the president, and everyone is instructed to do so as well,” she said.