By Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he did not wear a mask during a tour of a Honeywell International Inc (N 🙂 factory in Arizona on Tuesday after consulting with the company’s chief executive, despite the requirements in the plant that workers use them.
Trump, speaking to reporters at a White House event to mark National Nurses Day, said he tried on a few masks backstage, including one from Honeywell, 3M (NYSE 🙂 and about four more.
The president has not been wearing a mask in public despite his administration’s health advice encouraging people to do so to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Trump said before embarking on his trip to Arizona to visit a plant that made masks that he would likely wear one when he was there.
He did not wear one for most of his visit, but told reporters he had one at least briefly.
“I had a mask for a while,” Trump said. “I can’t help it if you didn’t see me. I mean, I had a mask, but I didn’t need it. And I specifically asked the director of Honeywell, ‘Should I wear a mask?’ And he said, “Well, you don’t need one,” Trump said.
Trump took a tour of the facility, held a meeting on how the virus was affecting Native Americans, and delivered remarks, all without a mask.
When asked how long he had been wearing one, Trump said: “Not long, but I was wearing it. I was wearing it … backstage. But they said I didn’t need it.”
Trump wore safety glasses during the factory visit. Production workers wore masks and a sign was visible that read: “Attention: face mask is required in this area. Thank you!”
Some of the officials who joined Trump for the tour also did not wear masks.
Honeywell said Wednesday: “Following the protocol recommended by the White House, a small number of people who interact directly with the President … were tested for COVID-19 immediately prior to the event, received negative results, and were allowed not to use masks … All others present were wearing masks … in accordance with Honeywell’s site policy. ”
Vice President Mike Pence has come under fire in recent days for not wearing a mask when visiting patients at the Mayo Clinic last week, something for which he apologized during a television interview Sunday.
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