White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Thursday morning that President Donald Trump would not order Americans at federal properties or the White House to wear masks.
‘There is not a mask mandate for the White House,’ McEnany said. ‘There isn’t a mask mandate at the federal level or here on the White House premises,’ she added, saying she had discussed the matter with Trump earlier in the morning.
Trump had been asked whether he would issue a mask mandate for federal properties in Washington to mirror the policy put in place Wednesday by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser who told residents they must now put on a mask when they step outside.
‘We’re going to make a decision over the next 24 hours,’ Trump replied. ‘We’ll let you know what that decision is.’
Bowser was responding to the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the nation’s capital, but doesn’t have any authority over what happens on federal property, which accounts for 29 percent of the land in Washington, D.C.
McEnany explained that there’s no White House mask mandate because the president and those in his bubble are tested so regularly.
The White House tests people who will come in close contact with the president, but not everyone who comes on White House property, including some members of the media, get a test.
The White House also closed down a temperature check station that was located right outside the White House gate on Pennsylvania Avenue. This move coincided with D.C. moving to ‘phase two’ in reopening.
McEnany also pushed back on the narrative that Trump has changed his position on masks.
‘Well, I’ve spoken to him about this privately. He’s spoken about this publicly. There hasn’t been a shift. Every time I’ve spoken to him he has said wearing a mask is no problem to him,’ she told Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier.
Trump didn’t let reporters see him in a mask until earlier this month on a trip to visit wounded troops at Walter Reed.
When the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention rolled out mask-wearing guidance in early April, Trump told reporters at the briefing that day that, ‘I don’t think that I’m going to be doing it.’
The Associated Press reported in May that Trump was reluctant to put on a mask because it would ‘send the wrong message’ and look ridiculous.
He also expressed concerns that photographs of him in a mask would be used in political attack ads, the AP said.
His refusal to let the press capture him in a mask has likely been more politically damaging.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll from July 15 found that 60 per cent disapproved of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 38 per cent approved.
In late March, the same poll found 51 per cent approved of the job he was doing, while 45 per cent disapproved.
Since those numbers were released, Trump has twice briefed the press on the coronavirus and will do so a third time later Thursday.
He also tweeted a picture of himself wearing a mask, suggesting the deed was ‘patriotic.’
But Trump has long resisted any sort of nationwide mask mandate and he’s also had a rocky relationship with D.C. Mayor Bowser and thus was not likely to follow her lead.
Things were especially fraught after ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters were teargassed in front of the White House on June 1, directly before Trump emerged to walk across Lafayette park to hold up a Bible in front of St. John’s church, which had been vandalized.
Bowser ordered ‘Black Lives Matter’ painted on 16th Street in front of the White House the next morning.