"Donald Trump spent months ignoring the advice of medical experts and politicizing wearing a mask, one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of the virus," a spokesperson for Biden said in a statement

By Maria Pasquini
July 12, 2020 12:01 PM
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ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images; Spencer Platt/Getty Images

As President Donald Trump was photographed wearing a face mask in public for the first time on Saturday, former Vice President Joe Biden criticized him for waiting so long to follow the recommendations of public health experts.

Trump, 74, was photographed wearing a mask while visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he met with wounded soldiers and coronavirus front line workers.

Before leaving the White House for the hospital, Trump — who has long resisted wearing masks in public, even taking jabs at his political opponents who have heeded the recommendation — told reporters that he did plan on wearing a mask during the outing.

“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,” he said. “I’ve never been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a place.”

Although the president, who has continually not worn masks at rallies and public events, was photographed wearing a mask in the hospital, he was not seen with a protective face covering when he arrived at the hospital.

ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Biden, who has continually called out Trump for ignoring mask recommendations, went on to criticize the president for all of the months he set a bad example for the American people.

“Donald Trump spent months ignoring the advice of medical experts and politicizing wearing a mask, one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of the virus," campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement to ABC News. “Rather than taking responsibility and leading, he wasted four months that Americans have been making sacrifices by stoking divisions and actively discouraging people from taking a very basic step to protect each other."

Hours earlier, the presumptive Democratic nominee, 77, also encouraged the president to wear a mask in public. "Wearing a mask and listening to others are two things this president should really learn how to do," Biden, 77, captioned an Instagram photo of himself wearing a protective mask while speaking with constituents.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also addressed the president's decision to finally wear a protective face-covering in public.

"I'm so glad that he obeyed the rules of Walter Reed. You can't go see our veterans who are there without wearing a mask. Now, he's crossed a bridge," Pelosi told CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday's episode of State of The Union. "That's an admission that if you're going to see our soldiers, you have to wear a mask. If you're going to be with our children, you have to wear a mask. If we want to stop the spread of the coronavirus, you have to wear a mask."

While Trump resisted the mask recommendation for months, as other top Republicans started stressing their importance and saying masks shouldn't be stigmatized, he began to publicly reverse his position.

Earlier this month he told Fox Business that he's "all for masks” — comments which he reiterated in a Fox News interview last week. “I think it's fine to wear a mask if it makes you feel comfortable,” he told Sean Hannity on Thursday, going on to note that especially in hospital settings, "I think it’s a very appropriate thing.”

Vice President Mike Pence, who began encouraging Americans to wear masks last month, did not wear a mask in April during a trip to the Mayo Clinic, although he later apologized. Trump himself previously wore a mask during a May visit to a factory in Michigan, although he only wore it during parts of the tour that were closed to the media.

As of July 12, there have been over 3.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States and at least 134,581 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

Amid a nationwide surge in new cases, with several states continually reporting record-high numbers, CNN reported that there are only three states that are reporting a decline in cases.

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