Trump says he won’t wear face mask despite CDC recommendation to do so

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus Friday in Washington.

Credit: Alex Brandon

Credit: Alex Brandon

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus Friday in Washington.

President Donald Trump says his administration is encouraging many Americans to wear face masks in public, though he stresses the recommendation is optional and is conceding that he will not comply with it.

“You can do it – you don’t have to do it. It’s only a recommendation,” he said, emphasizing that it is voluntary. “I don't think I’m going to be doing it.”

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When asked about his decision, Trump mentioned the optics of him wearing a mask while in the Oval Office.

“I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” he said. “Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I just don’t see it.”

The change comes a day after Vice President Mike Pence said new guidelines on face masks would be coming in "several days."

Previous guidance from the Atlanta-based CDC said it “does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms.”

"In light of recent studies, @CDCgov is recommending that Americans voluntarily wear a non-medical basic cloth or fabric mask that can be either purchased online or simply made at home,"Judd Deere, special assistant to the president and deputy press secretary in the administration, said on Twitter during the briefing. "The CDC is NOT recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks."

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams emphasized that previous guidance on face masks was made based on the information experts had at the time and “new evidence” shows many people with coronavirus are asymptomatic but can still spread the virus. The new recommendation comes in light of that and Americans should wear cloth masks when out in public.

Adams also stressed washing hands before putting on cloth face coverings.

“If you choose to wear a face covering, wash your hands first,” he said, also emphasizing the importance of social distancing when possible.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.