Trump does not wear mask publicly at Ford factory despite company policy
President Trump on Thursday did not wear a mask during a tour of a Ford factory in Michigan being used to produce ventilators, despite the company’s policy requiring everyone to wear personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The president walked around the factory floor without a face covering, even as Ford executives who joined him wore masks.
Prior to the tour, only GOP Senate candidate John James and Detroit Medical Center CEO Audrey Gregory wore masks during a roundtable with African American leaders. Gregory took off her mask to speak during the event, where individuals were spaced out around a table.
“I had one on before. I wore one in this back area, but I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump told reporters when asked about his lack of a face covering.
Reporter: “Could you just take us through your thought process of why you decided not to wear a mask.”
President Trump: “I had one on before. I wore one in this back area — but I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.” pic.twitter.com/AmJXUecymp
— The Hill (@thehill) May 21, 2020
Trump said company officials told him a mask was not necessary during the tour. Asked if that was true, an executive replied, “it’s up to him.”
“Bill Ford encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived,” the company said in a statement shortly after the president concluded his visit. “He wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years. The President later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit.”
Asked earlier in the day if he would wear a mask, Trump wouldn’t directly answer. But he seemed to indicate going without a mask would signal he was ready for the country to return to normal.
“A lot of people have asked me that question,” he said upon leaving the White House. “I want to get our country back to normal. I want to normalize.”
Thursday’s visit to the factory in Ypsilanti, Mich., came after some uncertainty over whether Ford would require the president to wear a face covering to comply with its policy. The company said in a statement it had shared its safety protocols with the White House ahead of the trip, but later clarified that did not mean it would compel Trump to wear a mask.
Dana Nessel, the state’s attorney general, urged Trump to wear a face covering, saying earlier Thursday that it’s required of Michiganders by order of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).
“If he fails to wear a mask, he’s going to be asked not to return to any enclosed facility inside our state. I know that Ford has asked him to do the same thing, but if we know that he’s coming to our state, and we know he’s not going to follow the law, I think we’re going to have to take action against any company or any facility that allows him inside those facilities and puts our workers at risk,” Nessel said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Trump has yet to wear a mask on camera, even as his government encourages Americans to do so when social distancing is not possible. He did not wear a mask during previous trips to Arizona and Pennsylvania, and he has previously suggested the mask may lead to poor optics during meetings with other leaders.
The White House has in the past defended Trump’s decision not to wear a face covering by noting that he is tested daily for the coronavirus and has tested negative. Officials argue that face coverings are intended to prevent infected individuals from spreading the virus, so a mask would be immaterial for someone who is not a carrier.
West Wing staffers are required as of last week to wear face coverings when they are not at their desks or are unable to practice social distancing. The increased safety protocols came after two staffers tested positive for the virus.
Updated at 5:27 p.m.
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