Trump made the comments during the first presidential debate in response to a question about the efficacy of masks, posed by moderator Chris Wallace.
“I wear masks when needed,” Trump claimed. “I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
The former vice president laughed dismissively at the claim.
“Masks make a big difference,” Biden responded. “[Trump’s] own head of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] said if we just wore masks ... if everybody wore masks and social distanced between now and January, we’d probably save up to 100,000 lives. It matters.”
Despite recent claims to the contrary, Trump has long derided masks and encouraged spectators at his rallies not to wear them. That’s despite privately knowing as early as February that COVID-19 was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus” and “you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” according to a conversation with journalist Bob Woodward at the time.
Few of the Republican attendees at Tuesday’s debate wore masks, video filmed before the event shows. Eric, Ivanka, Lara and Tiffany Trump all posed in masks for photos on social media, then removed them for the debate itself.
Several of Trump’s guests reportedly refused to put on a mask after a Cleveland Clinic doctor asked them to do so.
No one who spent time in a small room with Trump prepping him for Tuesday’s debate wore masks, either. That’s according to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who was a member of Trump’s prep team.
Christie told CNN neither Trump nor adviser Hope Hicks, both of whom have tested positive, exhibited any COVID-19 symptoms at the time.
On Wednesday, the day before he tested positive ― and while he was potentially infectious ― Trump attended a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, where he threw hats into the crowd:
After Trump held an indoor rally in June in Tulsa, Oklahoma ― where few, if any attendees wore masks ― Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said the event “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in the following weeks.