President Donald Trump announced during his White House coronavirus press briefing that the U.S. Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) had begun recommending people wear facemasks to protect against the spread of coronavirus. At the time, Trump relayed that advice as voluntary and said he himself would not be wearing mask.
As he discussed the voluntary mask recommendation, Trump indicated he would not be likely to take the advice for himself, Reuters reported. Trump said, “With the masks, it’s going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it, you don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it and that’s okay.”
When asked further about why he would choose not to follow the CDC advise, Trump suggested wearing a mask could interfere with his meetings with foreign leaders.
“As I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself,” Trump said.
Trump and other members of his coronavirus task force have been tested previously for coronavirus. Trump underwent a test in March after meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. In the day’s preceding Trump’s test, one of Bolsonaro aides, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive with the virus. Trump’s test results at the time came back negative, indicating he had not contracted the virus.
Trump announced he underwent a second coronavirus test this last week during a Thursday press briefing. The president again tested negative, Politico reported.
During his comments Friday, Trump noted that the recommendations to wear masks was not meant to be a substitution for social-distancing measures, such as maintaining physical distance from others, avoiding public gatherings and remaining home when possible.
In his Friday announcement, Trump did not advise people to wear medical-grade masks, such as the N95 masks that have seen as prized protective equipment for medical professionals dealing directly with coronavirus patients.
The CDC had not previously recommended masks, but updated the mask guidelines on their website on Friday.
On Friday, when reporters asked about the reason for the new recommendation, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “Well, it’s important to know that we now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms. Even those who eventually become pre-symptomatic, meaning they will develop symptoms in the future, can transmit the virus to others before they show symptoms.”
Adams also referenced new health indications that the virus can be transmitted not just by coughing and sneezing, but by speaking as well.
During his Friday press briefing, Trump also indicated his administration had requested the mask-manufacturing company 3M stop exporting masks to other countries, while those supplies are still needed in the U.S.