U.S. President Donald Trump wore a face mask in public for the first time Saturday during his visit with American service members at a military hospital outside Washington.
“I’ve never been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a place,” Trump told reporters before he boarded Marine One for a short flight to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
About two weeks ago, the president said he didn’t need to adopt the preventive measure against the coronavirus because everyone around him was regularly tested.
At Walter Reed, the president wore a black mask, as did his security team and Walter Reed officials, as he spent just less than an hour visiting patients and staff, whom he described as “our great heroes, our wounded” and the “warriors on the frontline of COVID.”
His visit with service members and employees came amid surges of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., which continues to lead the world in both infections and fatalities.
Upon returning to the White House, a somber president nodded at the media and silently walked into the residence.
More than 3.2 million people in the U.S. were infected with the virus as of Saturday evening EDT, about one-quarter of the more than 12.6 million cases worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.
The more than 134,000 deaths in the U.S. represented nearly one-fourth of the almost 564,000 COVID-19 fatalities throughout the world.
Trump last visited Walter Reed in November 2019. The visit was unscheduled and secretive, and was described by the White House as an “interim checkup” nine months after his previous medical examination.
The White House dismissed speculation about any “urgent or acute” issues involving Trump’s health.