US President Donald Trump on Thursday defied requests from company executives and was called a “petulant child” by a state attorney general when he refused to wear a mask during a visit to Michigan, a battleground state where he has repeatedly clashed with the Democratic governor, and used a speech to urge churches to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump toured a Ford Motor Co plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which has been recast to produce ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Surrounded by Ford executives who were wearing masks, Trump told reporters that he had put one on earlier, out of the view of cameras.
“I had one on before. I wore one in the back area. I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump said.
When asked if Trump was told it was acceptable not to wear a mask in the plant, Ford executive chairman Bill Ford said: “It’s up to him.”
The company had indicated prior to the visit that the president should wear a mask at the factory and the Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel had written to the White House saying it was the law in Michigan that everyone should wear a mask in such a setting — an indoor venue with many people in attendance.
“The president is like a petulant child who refuses to follow the rules. This is not a joke,” Nessel told CNN, adding that Trump’s behavior was “extremely disappointing” and that thousands of people in Michigan had died from COVID-19.
The US death toll yesterday had surpassed 94,700 and there had been more than 1.577 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the nation.
Trump said that he tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday morning, but within the past week two senior White House aides have tested positive, and the president has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic, despite it being not proven for treating the coronavirus, and garnering stern warnings from federal regulators and the WHO that it should not be taken outside of clinical trials.
Earlier, Trump held a roundtable discussion with African American leaders concerning vulnerable populations disproportionately hit by the coronavirus.
Trump has consistently disregarded guidance from top federal public health experts, both urging people to wear masks in close company and urging states not to rush to reopen while the coronavirus is not under control, but the president continued his pressure for states to reopen for business nonetheless and at the discussion urged the swift reopening of churches for in-person religious services.
He appeared to put pressure on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when he told the roundtable: “We are opening our churches again. I think the CDC is going to put something out very soon, spoke to them today. I think they are going to put something out very soon. We got to open our churches.”
However, he later acknowledged that if he held political rallies again soon they would be outdoors.
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