Trump tours Ford plant without a mask, defying company policy

Trump tours Ford plant without a mask, defying company policy
US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a tour at the Ford Rawsonville Plant that has been converted to making personal protection and medical equipment in Ypsilanti, Michigan on May 21, 2020.Brendan Smialowski / Getty

President Donald Trump didn’t wear a face mask as he toured Ford’s ventilator facility Thursday, defying the automaker’s policies and seeking to portray an image of normalcy even as American coronavirus deaths approach 100,000.

But he told reporters he had put on a mask in the “back area” of the plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and didn’t want to give them the “pleasure” of seeing him with it.

“I was given a choice,” he said. “And I had one on in an area where they preferred it, so I put it on. And it was very nice. Look, very nice. But they said they’re not necessary.” He added that he had also worn goggles.

He held up a dark-coloured mask bearing the presidential seal. Trump said he had been tested for the coronavirus earlier in the day and didn’t need to cover his face.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended wearing face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, and experts on the president’s coronavirus task force have said masks are useful in preventing the spread of the virus from those who are unaware they have it.

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Many companies continuing operations during the pandemic have instituted requirements that workers wear protective gear, including masks, while on the job, and Ford released a 64-page return-to-work playbook that states: “Face masks are required to be worn by everyone, in all facilities, at all times.”

The company said after the president’s visit was announced that it had shared details of its safety policies with the White House. Still, Ford ultimately opted to defer to the determinations of the White House, Rachel McCleery, a company spokeswoman, said Tuesday.
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