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Trump Wears Mask In Public For First Time During Walter Reed Visit

President Trump wears a mask during his visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Saturday.
Patrick Semansky
President Trump wears a mask during his visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Saturday.

President Trump on Saturday was photographed wearing a mask during a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, after months of refusing to don the medical expert-recommended face coverings meant to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"I love masks in the appropriate locations," Trump said, speaking to reporters at the White House before his visit.

Trump's usual reluctance to cover his mouth and nose in public has been a point of controversy during the nation's coronavirus crisis, especially as cases of COVID-19 continue to spike — particularly in Republican-led states.

Before taking off for Walter Reed, Trump said he'd "probably" wear a mask.

"I think when you're in a hospital, especially in that particular setting, where you're talking to a lot of soldiers and people that, in some cases, just got off the operating tables, I think it's a great thing to wear a mask," the president told reporters. "I've never been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a place."

Trump was at Walter Reed to visit wounded soldiers and medical professionals at the facility who specialize in coronavirus care.

The president had indicated earlier this week that he would likely wear a mask to the medical center to avoid the possibility of infecting soldiers.

"You're in a hospital setting, I think it's a very appropriate thing," Trump said during a Thursday interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. "I have no problem with a mask. I don't think you need one when you're tested all the time, everybody around you is tested."

"If I'm with soldiers, people that — you know, I don't want to spread anything."

Trump had briefly worn a mask before, during a May visit to a Ford facility in Michigan, at the request of company chairman Bill Ford and out of view from media and photographers.

The topic of wearing face masks has become a politicized issue, despite their effectiveness in helping to slow the spread of the deadly virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends individuals wear close-fitting cloth masks in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 from the mask-wearing individual to others.

The United States has recorded more than3 million coronavirus infectionsand more than 130,000 Americans have died from the virus.

Recent research suggests that more widespread mask usage could help prevent between 17,742 and 28,030 deaths across the United States before Oct. 1.

More than 20 states now require face masksto be worn in public. But some of the hardest-hit states, particularly Arizona and Florida, have declined to issue such orders statewide.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.