Trump, supporters gather without masks in NC despite request from local GOP official
President Trump and scores of supporters gathered for a rally in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Tuesday without masks, despite the urging of a local Republican official and a state mandate.
Dave Plyler, the GOP chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, told The Winston-Salem Journal that he felt Trump should abide by Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) order for individuals to wear a face covering when unable to socially distance.
“It’s been ordered by the governor,” Plyler told the news outlet. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in North Carolina, do as the governor says.”
But Trump, who has only worn a mask a few times in public, did not wear a face covering while in North Carolina.
Reporters and photographers on the ground in North Carolina shared images that showed many attendees were not wearing masks before or after Trump took the stage.
“Where’s Mick? Oh, I didn’t know Mick was here. Look at him. What a good guy. Thank you, Mick,” Trump says of his @MickMulvaneyOMB, who’s from South Carolina.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) September 8, 2020
The crowd waiting for Trump’s event tonight in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The TV feed is a bit grainy for me but, suffice it to say, there is very little mask-wearing. pic.twitter.com/MLGF65Leks
— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) September 8, 2020
But the president’s allies were quick to rebuff criticism on social media about the lack of masks. They pointed specifically to the group of supporters situated behind the stage, many of whom had masks with “MAGA” or “TRUMP” emblazoned on them.
The stage is set in North Carolina pic.twitter.com/XrwZEznWK4
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) September 8, 2020
North Carolina is under a mask mandate.
Trump’s Winston-Salem rally just now: pic.twitter.com/uxyoIpBjUm
— Alex Wayne (@aawayne) September 9, 2020
Video from various points in the rally showed a roughly even split among supporters standing directly behind Trump between those who wore masks and those who did not, as some lowered them over the course of the evening. The majority of those who gathered on the tarmac did not wear masks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged Americans to wear face coverings when they are unable to maintain at least six feet of distance from other people.
During his remarks on Tuesday, Trump mocked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over the controversy surrounding her visit to a salon where she was caught on camera not wearing a mask. He also quipped that the rally should be considered a “peaceful protest” to avoid violating rules that limit the size of public gatherings.
Trump in July tweeted an image of himself wearing a mask, saying it was “patriotic” to wear a face covering.
But Trump has largely forgone wearing a mask on camera and has openly mocked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing one. Public health experts, including officials in the Trump administration, have cited the use of face coverings as one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows earlier Tuesday dismissed the need for Trump to wear a mask, noting he is tested daily.
“When you wear a mask it’s really for others’ protection, not for your own protection,” Meadows told reporters, calling Trump “the most tested man in America.”
The U.S. has 6.3 million reported COVID-19 cases, the most of any country in the world.
This story was updated at 10:42 a.m.