President Donald Trump on Thursday mocked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing a face mask even as the US continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases, with more than 6 million infections.
Speaking to a largely mask-less crowd in Pennsylvania, Trump asked his supporters if they know “a man that likes a mask as much” as Biden.
“It gives him a feeling of security,” the President said. “If I was a psychiatrist, I’d say this guy has some big issues.”
Trump’s comments, which came the day after the US topped 185,000 deaths from Covid-19, run counter to the advice of public health experts, who have emphasized the importance of face coverings amid the country’s reopening, given that people without symptoms could unknowingly transmit the virus. Masks are primarily to prevent people who have the virus from infecting others.
Earlier guidance from US officials didn’t recommend widespread masking, but in April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended face coverings for the general public in places where social distancing is difficult to maintain, like grocery stores.
At the time, the CDC cited growing evidence that people could spread the coronavirus without feeling sick themselves.
Trump, however, has sought to politicize the wearing of masks. In May, he shared a tweet mocking Biden for wearing one at a Memorial Day ceremony.
In response, Biden called Trump “an absolute fool” in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash the next day.
“This macho stuff, for a guy – I shouldn’t get going, but it just, it costs people’s lives. It’s costing people’s lives,” Biden said.
He added: “Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine.”
While the President tweeted an image of himself wearing a face mask and indirectly called the act “patriotic” in June, the shift was primarily motivated by floundering poll numbers, a source familiar with Trump’s thinking previously told CNN.