By Beatriz Pascual Macias
Washington, July 11 (efe-epa).- United States President Donald Trump on Saturday appeared in public wearing a face mask for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, bringing much anticipation at a time when the country has been debating whether the use of face cover should be made mandatory in public places.
Trump wore a dark blue mask with a golden seal of the presidency at one end during a visit to the Walter Reed military hospital, on the outskirts of Washington to meet with health workers and troops admitted there.
Before leaving for the hospital in a helicopter, Trump confirmed he would be wearing a mask, as he had mentioned earlier.
“I think when you’re in a hospital, especially in that particular setting where you’re talking to a lot of soldiers and people that in some cases just got off the operating table, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask,” Trump told the media.
Until now, Trump had refused to wear a mask in public and had questioned its effectiveness, contradicting the recommendations of the country’s health authorities.
“I’ve never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place,” the president said.
Local media had earlier reported that Trump allegedly told his advisers that he resisted wearing a mask because he considered it presented an image of weakness.
Democrats believe Trump has refused to wear a mask due to “vanity,” while analysts like gender-expert Liz Plank say his attitude is part of a misunderstood masculinity with which he intends to show strength as if he were above the virus.
When Trump was seen on Saturday in a mask, he tried to offer an image of strength – he was surrounded by military and secret service officers who did not stop in front of the cameras while the representative, at the helm, led the entourage.
Trump’s decision to wear a mask comes amid a local debate making masks mandatory to check further spread of the Covid-19, which has reached record levels especially in the southern and western parts of the country.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards of the Democratic party on Saturday became the latest to make the use of masks mandatory. Currently, 20 of the country’s 50 states require people to wear masks in public spaces.
The mandatory nature of masks has created a divide between the most progressive Americans, who want everyone to use it, and the more conservative sections, who oppose it for political reasons and consider the novel coronavirus a farce.
For a month now, the virus has been spreading rapidly in the southern and western states of the US, such as Florida, Texas, and Georgia, which were the first to reopen their economies. The eastern areas of the country, where the pandemic began, now have lower numbers.
Moreover, this week, the mortality rate has increased in months, registering a total of 4,200 deaths across the country, according to John Hopkins University.
In fact, in the states of Texas, Arizona, and South Carolina, the mortality rate has risen by more than 100 percent in the last month.
Five other states – Florida, Mississippi, California, Tennessee, and Louisiana – have reportedly experienced a 20 percent increase over the same period.
In response, eight states have re-imposed restrictions such as the closure of bars and restaurants, while 13 have halted their reopening process.
The US has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, with a total of 3,239,707 infections, and 134,729 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The country recorded a daily increase of 66,261 cases on Saturday, with 760 deaths, marking the fifth consecutive day that fresh infections crossed 60,000. EFE-EPA