President Trump wore a mask while visiting military personnel undergoing treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday — his first time in public sporting a face covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading the coronavirus.
Accompanied by medical staff, Trump walked through the entryway of the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, wearing a navy blue mask with the presidential seal on the side.
He is visiting injured troops, their families, and healthcare staff who have been caring for COVID-19 patients during the pandemic, White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
The decision to wear a face covering is also a symbolic watershed moment for a leader who has been reluctant to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic.
Public health officials have increasingly stressed their role in helping to curb the spread of the virus, and members of his own party, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have called on the public to wear facial coverings.
First lady Melania Trump and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump have also promoted their use.
Trump has been photographed wearing a mask only once before.
Photos surfaced after his visit to a Ford Motor Co. plant in Michigan, showing the president wearing a mask with the presidential seal during a private part of his tour. Trump said he did not wear the mask in public because he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
He told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he expected to wear a mask during his weekend visit to Walter Reed.
“I don’t want to spread anything. And a lot of it is you spreading, not them spreading,” Trump said. “And I don’t want to cause a problem for anybody.”