For the first time since the start of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump wore a mask in public. He was seen with the face covering during a Saturday visit to Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.
"So we’re going to Walter Reed Hospital, and we’re going to be seeing soldiers -- our great heroes, our wounded, and some badly wounded. And they’re incredibly brave and great people. And we’re going to see also the warriors on the frontline of COVID, and quite a few of them. And we’re going to spend some good time with them, and I look forward to doing it. And it’ll be my honor to be there," the president told reporters before boarding Air Force One.
A reporter asked President Trump what message he wanted to convey by wearing the mask.
"Well, I’ll probably have a mask, if you must know. I mean, I’ll probably have a mask," he replied. "I think when you’re in a hospital, especially in that particular setting, where you’re talking to a lot of soldiers and people that, in some cases, just got off the operating tables, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask. I’ve never been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a place."
President Trump said earlier this week he would wear a mask when visiting Walter Reed Hospital, something that's required.
“Whenever you’re out in public, like at your local grocery store or pharmacy, where it’s difficult to maintain 6 feet of social distance, you should wear a cloth face covering," Walter Reed's website states.
Whether or not a mask protects people from the Wuhan coronavirus has been up for debate since the start of the pandemic. Initially, the Center for Disease Control did not recommend face coverings. Eventually, the CDC changed course and recommended Americans wear cloth face masks when out in public. They encouraged citizens to wear surgical masks and N-95 masks for health care workers as a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) ravaged the nation.