NIH director 'disheartened' by lack of masks at Trump rally

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins on Thursday night said that he was “puzzled” and “disheartened” by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE’s rally in Michigan that brought together a crowd of hundreds of people, many of whom were not wearing masks. 

“As a scientist, I'm pretty puzzled and rather disheartened,” Collins said on CNN after being shown images of Trump’s rally filled with maskless supporters. 

“It just deeply puzzles me, Sanjay. How did we get here?” Collins asked CNN's Sanjay Gupta.

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“Imagine you were an alien who landed on Planet Earth, and you saw that our planet was afflicted by an infectious disease and that masks were an effective way to prevent the spread, and yet when you went around you saw some people not wearing them, and some people wearing them, and you tried to figure out why, and it turned out, it was their political party,” he added. “And you would scratch your head and think, ‘This is not a planet that has much promise for the future, if something that is so straightforward can somehow get twisted into decisionmaking that really makes no sense.’”

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTillis appears to reinforce question about COVID-19 death toll Overnight Health Care: Trump signs largely symbolic pre-existing conditions order amid lawsuit | White House puts off action on surprise medical bills | Rising coronavirus cases spark fears of harsh winter NY health officials to review any vaccine approved by Trump MORE, the head of the NIH’s infectious diseases branch, also recently called out Trump’s maskless rallies, replying “yes it is” when asked on CBS on Wednesday if they were “frustrating." 

On Tuesday, Trump held a similar rally in North Carolina, where many in the crowd did not wear masks, despite a state mask mandate. Trump quipped then that the gathering was a “peaceful protest” to allow it to get around limits on the size of gatherings. 

Trump also rarely wears a mask himself, though he has said he is “all for” people wearing them.