President Donald Trump showed up to a news conference on Thursday not wearing a mask, a day after saying he would wear one in crowded rooms.
As USA Today reported, on Wednesday, Trump, who has steadfastly refused to be seen in public wearing a face mask ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, told Fox Business Network that he does wear a mask when he’s indoors in a small space with a group of people.
“I sort of liked the way it looked. It was a dark black mask, and I thought it looked OK. It looked like the Lone Ranger,” he said.
He then went on to say that he would wear a mask in certain situations.
“If I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely,” he said.
On Thursday, a crowd of reporters gathered in the White House briefing room, described by USA Today as a “small theater” in the West Wing. The reporters themselves wore masks and were seated six feet apart to keep with social distancing requirements.
President Trump, however, did not wear a mask. Neither did White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow nor Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who both spoke after Trump. Mnuchin did, however, praise the reporters for wearing masks.
As to why he and Kudlow didn’t wear masks, however, Mnuchin said they weren’t necessary because both men had been tested for coronavirus earlier in the day.
Similarly, Mnuchin addressed Trump not wearing a mask, saying that the president tested frequently.
“Because he’s the president of the United States and people are not around him close and the people who are around him are tested. I don’t think he needs to wear a mask, but the rest of us — absolutely,” Mnuchin said, adding that “the president supports wearing masks.”
As Slate reported this week, up until recently Republicans in leadership positions had generally been averse to wearing masks. However, for the past couple of weeks or so, that attitude appears to have changed. Slate writer Jim Newell suggests that the change of heart is tied to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is now ravaging so-called “red states,” including Texas, Florida, and Arizona.
Regardless of the reasons, the past few days have seen several prominent Republicans, among them Vice President Mike Pence, calling for Americans to wear masks. Similarly, Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander called on none other than President Trump himself to wear one, even though “there are not many occasions when it is necessary for him to do so.”