Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) is imploring President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE to adhere to health guidelines and wear a facial covering when he visits a Ford ventilator assembly plant in her state later this week.
In an open letter sent to the president on Wednesday, Nessel noted that under Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) stay-at-home order, manufacturers are required to suspend all non-essential visits, including tours. But Nessel said that both she and Whitmer agreed that Ford and the state’s autoworkers deserved to be showcased for the efforts they’ve made amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“While my department will not act to prevent you from touring Ford’s plant, I ask that while you are on tour you respect the great efforts of the men and women at Ford - and across this State - by wearing a facial covering,” she wrote. “It is not just the policy of Ford, by virtue of the Governor’s Executive Orders, it is currently the law of this State.”
Trump is scheduled to tour a Ford manufacturing facility in Ypsilanti, Mich., and deliver remarks there on Thursday. During the pandemic, the factory has been repurposed to generate ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care systems.
The factory has policies in place requiring everyone on site to wear personal protective equipment, raising questions about whether Trump would wear a face covering. The president has yet to wear a mask publicly, electing against their use during previous trips to Pennsylvania and Arizona.
He said Tuesday during a Cabinet meeting that he would considering wearing a mask depending on the scenario.
"I will certainly look at it," Trump said. "Am I standing right next to everybody, or am I spread out? Where it’s appropriate I would do it, certainly.”
Nessel told The Hill in a phone interview that it would send a “terrible message” if Trump flouted requirements and did not wear a mask during his visit to the Ford plant.
“I’m afraid that our state residents will see that and say, 'If Trump doesn’t have to wear a mask when he’s in a manufacturing facility, why should I have to?' It is very difficult to enforce the rules when you have a president who is flouting them,” she said.
Nessel added that the regulations in place are designed “to protect everyone that works at these manufacturing facilities,” noting that disobeying them could have both health and economic consequences.
“Can you imagine how expensive it is to shut one of these factories down again and then reopen it again?” she said.
Trump’s visit to Michigan will come amid increasing tension between him and the state. On Wednesday, he threatened to withhold federal funding from the state after Secretary of state Jocelyn Benson (D) announced that every registered voter in Michigan would receive absentee ballot applications in the mail this year.
Trump deleted his first tweet on the issue after wrongly stating that Michigan was sending absentee ballots by mail, instead of applications. But in a subsequent tweet, he maintained that the move was committed "illegally" and "without authorization."
Benson said in a statement announcing the decision that sending mail-in applications would help ensure safety amid the pandemic. As of Wednesday, the Michigan health department had reported more than 53,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 5,000 deaths caused by it.
Updated at 5:50 p.m.