Donald Trump was spotted wearing a face mask for the first time during a tour of a Ford Motor Co plant, after reportedly being persuaded by a political foe.
The American President traveled to the crucial U.S. election battleground state of Michigan on Thursday amid tensions with its Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer during the coronavirus pandemic, reports mirror.co.uk.
The plant has been recast to produce ventilators and personal protective equipment, with Trump also holding a roundtable discussion with African-American leaders concerning vulnerable populations hit by the virus.
Trump had repeatedly refused to wear a mask during any of his public events at the plant in the city of Ypsilanti even though Ford on Tuesday reiterated its policy that all visitors must wear them.
But he was snapped wearing it eventually – reportedly after being persuaded by Ms Whitmer, according to a tweet by Democratic strategist Christine Pelosi, and daughter of Nancy.
She added: “And sadly it was not for the entire tour … baby steps one supposes. le sigh.”
The president said recently he is taking a drug not proven effective for Covid-19 after two White House staffers tested positive in recent weeks.
He has consistently disregarded guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging people to wear masks in close company to try to curb the spread of the virus.
In a convoluted statement during his trip to Michigan, he told reporters he had “tested positively toward negative” for the virus.
“I tested very positively in another sense,” he said. “I tested positively toward negative. I tested perfectly this morning, meaning I tested negative.”
Surrounded by Ford executives wearing masks, Trump told reporters he had put one on out of the view of cameras.
He was snapped multiple times holding a navy blue mask sporting the presidential seal before finally putting it on.
“I had one on before. I wore one in the back area. I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump said.
When asked if Trump was told it was acceptable not to wear a mask in the plant, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said, “It’s up to him.”
“Honestly I think I look better in a mask,” Trump added jokingly.
The company later said in a statement that the chairman had “encouraged” Trump to wear a mask when he arrived.
He added that the President had obliged during a private viewing of three two-seater Ford GT sports cars but then removed the face covering for the rest of the visit.
Trump, a Republican seeking re-election on November 3, has urged states to loosen coronavirus-related restrictions so the battered U.S. economy can recover.