President Trump was seen wearing a mask in public for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic during a Saturday visit to Walter Reed military hospital.

Trump was at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit wounded servicemembers and health care professionals caring for COVID-19 patients.

He told reporters as he was leaving the White House, “When you’re in a hospital, especially … I think it’s expected to wear a mask.”

The president has refused to be seen wearing a mask amid the pandemic that’s infected more than 3.2 million Americans and killed some 134,000, even as public health experts say wearing a face covering continues to be a key method for infection control and as states issue mask orders. Several prominent Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, have urged people to wear masks, particularly as cases and deaths rise across the Sun Belt.

Trump has rejected wearing masks at news conferences and other public events as the virus rages, though he reportedly donned one during a private tour of a Ford plant in Michigan.

Face coverings were few and far between at the president’s re-election campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., in late June, an event which a top health official there now says “more than likely” contributed to a spike in coronavirus cases.

Masks were also major point of contention surrounding Trump’s now-scrapped rally in Portsmouth, N.H., which was initially scheduled for Saturday. The Trump campaign said it would provide hand sanitizer and masks that attendees at the outdoor rally here “strongly encouraged” to wear. But local and state officials pushed Republican Gov. Chris Sununu to issue a mask mandate ahead of the rally, which he declined to do even as he said mask-wearing at the event was “imperative.”

Herald wire services contributed.


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