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Trump, Biden take on each other over the issue of wearing face mask

US President Trump has been refusing to appear in public wearing a face mask even as his country accounts for the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world.

Updated: May 27, 2020 23:28 IST

By Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times Washington

In this May 21, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump holds a face mask in his left hand as he speaks during a tour of an automobile plant that has been converted to making personal protection and medical equipment, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (AP)

As the United States deals with the sobering implications of the Covid-19 deaths nearing 100,000, a third of the global toll, President Donald Trump waged a culture war with Joe Biden - his presumptive Democratic challenger for the White House - over face masks that his own health officials have strongly recommended for Americans.

Trump, who has refused to appear in public wearing a mask, started this round by retweeting a post Monday that had a picture of former vice-president Joe Biden wearing a mask. The tweet by Brit Hume read, “This might explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public. Biden today.”

Asked if he meant to criticise the former vice-president for wearing a mask, Trump, said Tuesday, “No, Biden can wear a mask, but he was standing outside with his wife -- perfect conditions, perfect weather. They’re inside, and they don’t wear masks.”


Public health officials have, in fact, recommended masks be worn whenever in social situations where social distancing is difficult, indoors or outdoors.

Biden, whose picture on the post was taken during his visit to an event to commemorate Memorial Day, was right for wearing a mask in that situation.

“He’s a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way,” Biden said in a CNN interview about the president. “Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine.”

Even at the time Trump announced recommendatory use of masks, as required by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention early April, the president had said he won’t be wearing one, suggesting he had to deal with other heads of states and governments.

And the president has steadfastly refused to wear one since. The one time he did, during a tour of an automobile manufacturing plant last week that had switched to making ventilators, he removed it before facing reporters.

Masks have become a tool in a culture war in which some conservatives and right-wing activists have turned them into a sign of weakness. There have been instances in which people wearing masks have been shouted at by others at grocery stores and other public places.


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