WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump wore a mask during a visit to a military hospital on Saturday.
It’s the first time the president has been seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by the novel coronavirus.
Trump flew by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Washington to meet wounded service members and health care providers caring for COVID-19 patients.
As he left the White House, he told reporters: “When you’re in a hospital, especially … I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask.”
Trump was wearing a mask in Walter Reed’s hallway as he began his visit. He was not wearing one when he stepped off the helicopter at the facility.
The president was a latecomer to wearing a mask during the pandemic, which has raged across the U.S. since March and infected more than 3.2 million and killed at least 134,000.
Most prominent Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, endorsed wearing masks as the coronavirus gained ground this summer. Republican governors have been moving toward requiring or encouraging the use of masks as the pandemic has grown more serious in some states in the South and West.
Trump, however, has declined to wear a mask at news conferences, coronavirus task force updates, rallies and other public events.