Masks are required in Michigan. Ford requires visitors to wear masks. But here’s why President Trump may not protect himself and others while touring the Rawsonville plant Thursday.
YPSILANTI, MI — Michiganders are wearing masks during the pandemic; to be in line with Gov. Whitmer’s orders, to continue to flatten the curve, to protect their families and neighbors.
But will President Trump follow suit and wear a mask when he tours Michigan and interacts with our residents and leaders?
It’s one of the questions readers from The ‘Gander had as we prepare for his visit. Will the President lead by example and wear a mask on his tour of the Ford Motor Company’s Rawsonville manufacturing plant in Ypsilanti?
We’re looking at the facts.
What Ford Wants
Ford noted to the White House that it was required of everyone in its factories to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that effectively paralysed the national economy due to its remarkably fast and deadly spread through March and April. But President Trump will not be held to those policies.
Ford spokesperson Rachel McCleery told the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday that the automaker was not going to extend that requirement to President Trump during his Rawsonville visit, instead allowing him to choose if he will wear a mask.
“The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination,” she said.
Trump was asked about if he intended to wear a mask on Thursday, and didn’t directly answer the question, saying it would depend on the areas he was in.
He’s Usually Adverse to Wearing One
When he didn’t wear his mask on a tour of the Mayo Clinic, Vice President Mike Pence got a wave of unfavorable coverage including being publicly chastised by his former personal physician. Like Rawsonville, the Mayo Clinic had a policy requiring mask use, ABC reports. That example might pressure Trump into wearing a mask at the Ford plant.
Trump has also been hit by Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden for his unwillingness to wear masks, the Hill reports.
“I don’t walk out of this house without a mask on,” Biden said. “I don’t walk out in my yard to talk to the Secret Service without a mask on. It’s critical.”
But Trump, who is also not required to wear a mask at the White House despite staffers doing so, has defended his unwillingness to do so by saying he just doesn’t feel vulnerable.
“Because we’re running a country, we want to keep our country running, so we have a lot of people coming in and out,” he said in a press briefing. “Many of those people, most people are tested depending on what portion of the Oval Office area they’re going in, everybody coming into the president’s office gets tested. And I felt no vulnerability whatsoever.”
Further, the Independent reports, President Trump has said that he feels wearing a mask isn’t presidential.
“I just don’t want to wear one myself. It’s a recommendation, they recommend it. I’m feeling good. I just don’t want to be doing – somehow sitting in the Oval Office,” he said. “I think that wearing a face mask as a great – presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens – I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself. I just don’t.”
The Sun-Times notes that Trump has not worn masks at the previous three tours of coronavirus response manufacturers.
Why Masks Matter
Writing for The Conversation, research scientist from University of San Francisco Jeremy Howard explained the necessity of masks.
Coronavirus is spread by droplets released when people breathe, and can spread from people not showing symptoms. A light-scattering experiment on YouTube shows the effectiveness of masks in preventing droplets from spreading to others and potentially carrying the virus to others.
While the experiment can’t see ‘micro-droplets’, those don’t play a large role in coronavirus infections, says Howard.
Masks don’t protect the wearer, they protect everyone else.
“This evidence seems, to me, clear and simple: COVID-19 is spread by droplets,” wrote Howard. “We can see directly that a piece of cloth blocks those droplets and the virus those droplets contain. People without symptoms who don’t even know they are sick are responsible for around half of the transmission of the virus.”
His Own Course of Action
President Trump is reportedly taking hydroxychloroquine, the controversial drug he supports as a treatment for the coronavirus despite testing negative for the virus. COURIER notes that the push to adopt hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus worries lupus patients who rely on the drug. Medical experts do not back taking this drug for treatment of the coronavirus or to prevent it.
And not having to wear a mask isn’t the only exception being made for the President’s visit.
In a recent executive order outlining safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in reopening workplaces, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer prohibited unnecessary visits and tours to manufacturing plants — a type of event that President Trump’s visit unequivocally qualifies as. But Whitmer’s administration is not interested in trying to stop President Trump from speaking in Ypsilanti.
“While the president’s visit is contrary to the governor’s order, this is an opportunity to showcase how important Michigan is to the response to COVID-19 and rebuilding our nation’s economy,” Whitmer spokesman Zack Pohl told the Sun-Times.
Trump’s visit to Rawsonville is to thank workers for the collaborative effort between Ford and General Electric to produce ventilators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to respond to the needs created by the coronavirus pandemic.