United States President Donald Trump on Friday vowed to not order Americans to wear masks to contain the spread of the coronavirus. “I do not believe in the statement that if everyone wore a mask, everything disappears,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. The US president publicly wore a mask for the first time last week.
His comments came after the country’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, implored state and local leaders to be “as forceful as possible” in getting people to wear masks, CNN reported. “When you’re living your life and trying to open up the country, you are going to come into contact with people,” he said during a US Chamber of Commerce virtual event on Friday. “And for that reason, we know that masks are really important, and we should be using them everywhere.”
However, Trump said he did not agree with a national mask mandate, as people should have a “certain freedom”. “Fauci said do not wear a mask,” he said. “Our surgeon general said do not wear a mask. Everybody was saying do not wear a mask and all of a sudden everybody’s got to wear a mask.”
Fauci and Surgeon General Jerome Adams had initially said in the early weeks of the virus’ surge that they did not think masks were necessary, according to NBC News. However, they have been urging Americans to use one since April, claiming their message changed when they found out more about how the coronavirus spread.
But the US president said, “As you know, masks cause problems too.” However, he did not provide further explanation to his statement. “That being said, I am a believer in masks,” Trump added. “I think masks are good.”
Earlier this week, the US public health body Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement urging everyone to wear masks. “We are not defenceless against Covid-19,” CDC Director Robert R Redfield said. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting.”
Trump has been constantly stressing the measure to wear masks is voluntary, and said that he did not think he was “going to be doing it”. He had for months refused to wear a mask in public, even as public health experts in his administration recommended one to slow the spread of the infection. He has also ridiculed those who wore a mask, like Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The United States is the worst-affected from the coronavirus pandemic in the world, with over 36 lakh cases and 1.39 lakh deaths, so far, according to the Johns Hopkins University.