Trump wears mask during visit to Walter Reed

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE wore a face mask during his visit to Walter Reed hospital on Saturday, marking the first time he has done so in front of cameras.

Trump visited the medical center in Maryland to meet with wounded soldiers and health care staff who have been caring for COVID-19 patients. He wore a mask as he walked down a hallway with hospital officials, but the rest of his time at Walter Reed was closed to the press.

The face mask seen on the president was navy blue with a gold presidential seal on the side of it.

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Trump has seldom worn a mask publicly. He was spotted wearing one behind the scenes during a tour of a Ford factory in May but then opted not to wear one in front of the media, saying he didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of seeing it.

The president has said he doesn’t have an issue with those who wear masks and insisted he would use a face covering in a crowded setting or when visiting a hospital. But Republicans have urged him to wear one himself, arguing it would set a good example for his supporters amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Before Trump departed for his visit, he told the press it was an important to wear a mask in a hospital. 

"I'll probably have a mask, if you must know," Trump told reporters before he departed to the hospital. "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." 

On its website, the hospital states that visitors "are expected to wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth upon entering and while moving about the facility ... when not able to maintain 6 feet of social distancing."

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance in April encouraging Americans to wear masks when social distancing is not possible because doing so decreases the risk of spreading the virus.

Trump has reasoned that he does not need to wear a mask because he and his staff are regularly tested for COVID-19. 

The White House staff has also been reluctant to embrace the use of masks. Officials are no longer required to wear them in the West Wing, and some of Trump's top aides are rarely seen wearing them on camera.

“I've never been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a place,” Trump said Saturday. 

The president indicated earlier in the week he would don a mask at Walter Reed. 

Trump's reluctance to take the public health safety measure has come under fire from other politicians, including prominent Republicans. Some have even used their platforms to promote mask-wearing to their constituents, but the president has avoided explicitly encouraging people to do so.

Trump has instead held two indoor political events where attendees were not spaced out and few wore masks.

Since the start of the year, the coronavirus has infected more than 3.2 million people in the U.S. and killed at least 134,000 in the country.

Updated 6:56 p.m.