CORONAVIRUS

Donald Trump Refuses To Wear Mask At Mask Supplier, Suggests Testing Is 'Overrated'

"We have the best testing in the world. Could be that testing is, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated."

President Donald Trump on Thursday griped about the pressure he’s facing to increase the ability to test people for the coronavirus, saying that testing might be “overrated” anyway.

“We have the best testing in the world. Could be that testing is, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated,” Trump said during a visit to Owens & Minor, a medical supply company in Allentown, Pennsylvania, that distributes masks and other products.

“You know, they always say, ‘We want more, we want more,’ because they don’t want to give you credit. Then we do more, and they say, ‘We want more,’” he added.

Trump did not wear a mask during his visit, and neither did his chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Everyone else did, according to the pool report from S.V. Date, HuffPost’s senior White House correspondent.

President Donald Trump visits medical supply distributor Owens & Minor in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on May 14.
President Donald Trump visits medical supply distributor Owens & Minor in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on May 14.

Hundreds of Trump supporters lined the road along the president’s route to the plant on Thursday, and thousands appeared to be at the plant itself to greet him. Many were not wearing masks. 

Even though the federal government’s own health experts recommend wearing masks, Trump has refused to do so. 

“I don’t think that I’m going to be doing it,” he said after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines to encourage mask usage.

Trump has also reportedly said he would look ridiculous wearing a mask and that he worried it would send the wrong message, contradicting his (unscientific) predictions that the end of the pandemic is just around the corner.

Thursday’s visit was one of Trump’s few trips out of Washington, D.C., since the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the country. In early May, he went to a mask factory in Arizona and also refused to wear a mask ― despite a sign near the factory floor that read, “Please wear your mask at all times.”

Vice President Mike Pence also faced significant criticism when he visited the Mayo Clinic and did not wear a mask ― even though it was the policy of the facility. 

People watch as a motorcade with President Donald Trump drives past on Thursday, May 14, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
People watch as a motorcade with President Donald Trump drives past on Thursday, May 14, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Trump has been playing down the significance of testing people to see whether they have the coronavirus, even though medical experts and scientists said it’s key to overcoming the pandemic. In addition to the volume of tests, experts said it also matters which populations are getting tested and whether there is adequate contact tracing to track who has been infected.

At the same time, he has boasted that the United States has “the best testing in the world” ― a claim that is absolutely not true.

But there is one place where testing is readily available: the White House. After several staffers who have had close contact with the president and vice president tested positive for COVID-19, tests are now readily available at the White House that take just minutes to get results (although the reliability of those results has been questioned). 

Staffers will also now have to wear masks most of the time, a policy that the president said he put into place himself. Trump, however, will continue not to wear one.


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