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On Tuesday, President Trump broke a month-long streak of sheltering-in-place in the White House to visit a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, where N-95 respirators are manufactured. His first venture outside his highly regulated and coronavirus-tested residence could have gone better: At the Honeywell mask factory, the president did not wear a mask.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the president chose not to follow CDC recommendations that Americans wear a mask while in public. Never someone who felt particularly beholden to the rule of law or voluntary guidelines, Trump said on April 3 that “wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, I don’t see it for myself.” Apparently, he can add factory workers to that list, even though a sign at the facility advised workers to wear them during their shifts. (He did, however, agree to the shop-floor policy of protective eye-gear, despite reportedly hating to be seen wearing glasses.)
The administration certainly had advance notice that Trump would face criticism for not wearing a mask indoors around strangers, as last week Vice-President Mike Pence, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, was condemned for his decision not to wear one in a Mayo Clinic facility, breaking the clinic’s policy that face coverings are mandatory. While the White House chose either not to care or not to make the effort to dissuade the president, they couldn’t have been ready for the soundtrack of the video that went public. As the president encourages the country to reopen, even as a CDC draft report released Monday suggests as many as 3,000 Americans could die each day by June 1, it’s probably best to avoid any photo opportunities where Guns N’ Roses’ version of “Live and Let Die” is blasting over the house speakers.