Mostly Maskless Trump Family Heads to Florida for SpaceX Rocket Launch Scrubbed Due to Weather
In a rare family outing, President Donald Trump and some of his children and grandchildren visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday to tour the facility and watch the joint SpaceX-NASA rocket launch, which was ultimately delayed because of weather conditions.
Photos and White House pool reports showed that Ivanka Trump, the president's 38-year-old daughter and a senior adviser, and her two young kids wore a mask to the facility.
But the elder Trump and other members of his family, including First Lady Melania Trump, sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, as well as Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner (another White House aide), did not wear protective face coverings recommended by the federal government while in public to avoid contracting or spreading the novel coronavirus.
Health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said everyone should wear face coverings in public where social distancing isn't possible, such as stores and crowded or populated areas. The virus is spread by respiratory droplets such as those from coughing and sneezing.
The U.S. death toll from the virus surpassed 100,000 on Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker.
Trump, 73, has routinely dismissed the idea of wearing a face mask in public, while he's jabbed at his likely election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, for wearing one over the weekend in Biden's first public appearance since economic and social shutdowns swept the country in mid-March.
Biden responded that Trump was an "absolute fool" to call him out for taking the recommended precaution.
"I mean, every leading doc in the world is saying you should wear a mask when you're in a crowd," Biden, 77, told CNN. "Especially when you know you're going to be in a position where you're gonna inadvertently get closer than 12 feet to somebody."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases and the public face of Trump's coronavirus task force, told CNN on Wednesday that wearing a mask simply shows "respect for another person."
"I want to protect myself and protect others," Fauci said, "and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that's the kind of thing you should be doing."
Trump and Fauci have differed before, including over how aggressive to be in pushing for schools to resume in-person classes during the pandemic.
The Trump family's field trip to the Kennedy Space Center was overshadowed by local weather conditions, which forced the SpaceX and NASA crews to postpone their manned rocket launch about 20 minutes before astronauts were set to take off.
Video from the Trump family's tour of the facility, shared by The Hill, showed the president's entourage taking a tour of the space center's campus while Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walked side-by-side without wearing masks.
Pence — who has acknowledged he should have worn a mask during a previous public appearance — kept his physical distance from Trump for about a week in mid-May after two White House staffers, including Pence's press secretary, tested positive for the virus.
Ivanka, who wore a mask along with her two children Wednesday, self-quarantined in late March after coming in close contact with an Australian official who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
The space center trip was the highest-profile group appearance by the Trumps since all four of his adult children traveled with the president for a dinner at Buckingham Palace last year.
Sons Don Jr. and Eric run the family's real estate company and while they are not government employees, they are prominent surrogates for their dad. Don Jr.'s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Eric's wife, Lara, joined the family in Florida on Wednesday.
Youngest daughter Tiffany Trump, who just graduated law school, was not in Florida and appears to be spending time with her mother, Marla Maples, the president's second ex-wife. (Youngest son Barron, a teenager, seems to have stayed in Washington, D.C.)
The White House implemented stricter social distancing policies earlier this month in an effort to avoid an outbreak within the administration's offices after Pence's aide and one of Trump's personal valets contracted the virus.
The president and vice president are tested daily, Trump has said.
"The interesting or sad thing about my dear colleague who was stricken with the coronavirus this week is we were getting tested because we're close to the president everyday," Kevin Hassett, one of Trump's top economic advisers, told CBS’ Face the Nation on May 10. "Even with that, she tested negative one day and positive the next day and she's going to work in a community where people are being tested. This is a very, very scary virus."
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