President Donald Trump on Thursday refused to wear a mask for coronavirus protection while touring a Ford Motor Co. plant in Michigan, despite a state law and company policy requiring facial coverings there.
Trump was visiting Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, which has a policy of requiring masks there.
The plant is currently manufacturing ventilators in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.
Video from the president’s visit showed Trump on the factory floor talking to Ford executives who were wearing masks.
“Not necessary,” Trump said, when a reporter asked why he was not wearing a facial covering.
“Everybody’s been tested and I’ve been tested.”
Trump also claimed “I had one [a mask] on before,” in an area that was not visible to reporters, but added: “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
“I was given a choice, and I had one on in an area where they preferred it,” Trump said, referring to Ford executives.
When Ford’s executive chairman William Ford Jr. was asked “can you confirm the president was told it is ok not to wear a mask in this area,” Ford shrugged and said, “It’s up to him!”
Trump: Here’s my mask right here pic.twitter.com/d5VhVsDS3S
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) May 21, 2020
The president’s tour occurred despite an executive order signed earlier this week by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that prohibits nonessential visits to manufacturing facilities in the state to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Wednesday said that while she would not seek to block Trump’s visit, he had a “legal responsibility” under state law to wear a mask when he visited the plant.
“I ask that while you are on tour you respect the great efforts of the men and women at Ford — and across this state — by wearing a facial covering,” Nessel wrote in an open letter to the president.
Pres. Trump tours Ford plant repurposed to make PPE without wearing a mask.
Ford policy requires everyone in facilities to wear masks.
On Tues., a spox said, ”The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination” on wearing masks. pic.twitter.com/1XBR8UlIS0
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 21, 2020
Before the president’s visit to Michigan, the state’s attorney general said Trump will be told not to come back if he refuses to wear a face mask when he tours a Ford Motor plant.
“Honestly, if he fails to wear a mask, he’s going to be asked not to return to any enclosed facility inside our state,” Dana Nessel told CNN.