On Thursday, President Trump tweeted that he was going to have flags at federal buildings and national monuments lowered to “half-staff” to honor the victims of COVID-19.
….On Monday, the flags will be at half-staff in honor of the men and women in our Military who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Nation.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 21, 2020
I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus…
In a subsequent tweet, the president wrote: “On Monday, the flags will be at half-staff in honor of the men and women in our Military who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Nation.”
COVID-19 has infected over 5 million people worldwide and led to more than 329,800 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) Global Cases map. 1.9 million people have recovered.
In the United States, there have been more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and over 93,800 deaths. As of publication, 294,312 individuals have recovered from the virus.
Earlier on Thursday, President Trump toured a Ford plant in Michigan. Speaking with press during the tour, Trump was asked by a reporter why he wasn’t wearing a mask.
The following exchange occurred:
REPORTER: Mr. President, there was a lot of interest about whether you would end up wearing a mask today. Could you just take us through your thought process of why you decided not to wear a mask?
TRUMP: Well, I did wear, I had one on before. I wore one in this back area, but I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it. But no, where I had it in the back area, I did put a mask on.
REPORTER: Did you have the goggles on, too, as well, sir?
TRUMP: I did. I had goggles and a mask right back here.
The president then handed a face shield to a reporter carrying a boom mike. When he was pressed as to why he wasn’t still wearing a mask, Trump replied that it was “not necessary here,” and that “everybody’s been tested, and I’ve been tested.”
A reporter then asked why the Ford executives were wearing masks, and the president wasn’t.
Trump replied: “That’s their choice. I was given a choice, and I had one on in an area where they preferred it, so I put it on.”
When asked about the “example” it sets, Trump replied that he thinks “it sets an example both ways, and as they say, I did have it on.”
Following a question about manufacturing, a brief moment with William Ford Jr., the executive chairman of Ford, and Trump displaying his personal mask for the press, the president and the executives began to walk away. As they did, a reporter yelled out: “Mr. Ford, can you confirm that the president was told it’s okay not to wear one in this area?!”
Ford put up his hands, and replied: “It’s up to him.”
Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Megerian later tweeted:
New statement from Ford — “Bill Ford encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived. He wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years. The President later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit.”
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) May 21, 2020
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