WASHINGTON – No masks in Kenosha for President Donald Trump.
Trump, who has expressed off-again, on-again support for mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, was maskless again Tuesday as he surveyed businesses damaged during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
At the start of a roundtable meeting with law enforcement personnel, local officials, and business owners, Trump told them they could take off their face masks “if you feel more comfortable” doing so.
“Look how fast you took that off,” he told one person.
None of the roundtable participants wound up wearing masks, a group that included Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.
Some members of Trump’s entourage were seen wearing masks during a tour of torched areas in a state that has suffered its share of coronavirus cases. On Monday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 75,603 total positive coronavirus test results in the Badger State and a total of 1,122 COVID-19 deaths.
In late July, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issued an order requiring all Wisconsin residents to wear masks indoors, except in private residences. The order “strongly recommends” face coverings outside “when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing.”
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President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he tours an area damaged during demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis.
For months, Trump refused to wear a mask, even during a highly publicized May visit to a manufacturing plant in Phoenix – a plant that made face masks. Almost everyone else at the plant during Trump’s visit wore some kind of face covering.
Trump has worn masks on a few occasions, most notably during a July 11 visit with ill troops at Walter Reed hospital. On July 21 he urged all Americans to do so, saying he was “getting used” to the idea.
“We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask,” Trump said then. “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they’ll have an effect. We need everything we can get.”
A few weeks later, Trump criticized Democratic presidential opponent Joe Biden for proposing a policy to have all of the nation’s governors require mask wearing in their states.
Calling it an unnecessary mandate, Trump said: “We want to have a certain freedom. That’s what we’re about.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump: No mask in Kenosha, despite COVID-19 spread in Wisconsin