WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s top health advisers – Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx – showed up at a White House event Friday with protective masks, though the president himself continued to spurn any kind of face covering.
“We’ve all been tested,” Trump said when asked about his decision to go without a mask. “I’ve been tested.”
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was one of three health officials who signed a statement this week saying they would wear masks and take other precautions during White House events.
Fauci and Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, stood behind Trump with masks as the president discussed a project to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.
The president has steadfastly refused to wear a mask in recent weeks, despite new White House guidelines that require those around them to do so.
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday. Behind him are Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, right, and White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx.
Ivanka Trump, daughter and senior adviser to her father, said she wears a mask at the White House, and added that the protocols are different as they relate to the president himself.
“There are different procedures as it relates to interacting with the president,” Ivanka Trump told USA TODAY on Thursday when asked about criticism her father has received for declining to wear a mask in public.
The president “is tested on a daily basis – all those who come into contact with him are tested on a daily basis,” she said in an interview. “No one is in close proximity to him that isn’t wearing a mask.”
Critics say Trump’s refusal to don a mask is setting a bad example at best and endangering others at worst. The president even rejected a face covering when he toured a mask production facility last week in Arizona.
Trump also went bare faced when he toured a medical equipment factory Thursday in Allentown, Pennsylvania. After he arrived in Pennsylvania, the state’s Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, took a shot at the president over the mask issue.
“Masks add another layer of protection to help stop the spread of #COVID19,” Wolf tweeted, but not mentioning the president. “It’s important that as many people as possible wear masks when leaving home.”
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Most visitors to the White House wear masks these days.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, and Steve Hahn, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, signed the statement along with Fauci pledging to wear masks and take other protective steps when entering the executive mansion.
The mask rule is not mandatory for department heads who do not work at the White House.
During the White House vaccine events, two high-ranking officials – Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar – also did not wear face coverings.
Asked about the different approaches, Trump said he told aides they could do what they wanted regarding masks.
“You can blame it on me,” Trump said. “I gave them the option.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump doesn’t wear mask, Fauci, Birx do in vaccine news conference