President Trump does not want to issue a nationwide mask mandate to combat the coronavirus and instead wants local governments to make their own choices, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a Thursday press briefing.
“We leave it to localities to make the decisions with regard to face coverings. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines remain the same today: recommended but not required,” McEnany said.
On Wednesday, CDC Director Robert Redfield described face coverings as “our major defense to prevent ourselves from getting this infection” during an interview with the medical journal JAMA.
“I think if we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control,” he said.
Coronavirus cases are currently surging around the country. Redfield’s comments came on the heels of a CDC study, also released on Wednesday, that found countries that did not require face coverings had a higher rate of coronavirus deaths than those with mask mandates. The CDC study recommended that policymakers insist on mask requirements. While many local governments around the country have ordered people to wear masks, most governors have refused to issue statewide mandates.
McEnany noted that the president wore a mask on Saturday as he visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington. That trip marked the first time Trump, who has made critical comments about masks, wore a face covering in public since the coronavirus pandemic began.
McEnany said Trump would wear a mask in places where it’s not possible to socially distance.
“He did wear a mask this weekend when he visited the hospital,” she said. “So he has shown that, you know, he’ll wear a mask.”