Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urged Americans to "act responsibly" by practicing recommended health precautions as the US faces a "very serious situation" in the novel coronavirus pandemic. Azar said the "window is closing" for the country to control the virus outbreaks, which have risen in at least 36 states. The White House has claimed that concerning spikes in cases were due to increased testing, but health experts have pushed back on the claim. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Sunday that the "window is closing" for the US to control the novel coronavirus pandemic in what has become "a very serious situation." Azar said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that as states like Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona saw caseloads spike throughout June, "individuals have to act responsibly" by practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings in public. Azar waved off the idea that the spikes in cases were due to the country reopening too early, but said the new cases and expected rise in hospitalizations spell "a very serious situation." The public health official's take on the rise in cases is a departure from that offered by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence just a few days earlier. At a Friday press conference, Pence claimed the US has "flattened the curve" and repeated Trump's debunked claim that increased case counts are due to increased testing. Health experts have pushed back on the claim, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said that the challenges in administering widespread testing and diagnosing asymptomatic cases meant the actual number of COVID-19 infections was likely 10 times what official test results have indicated. Despite the clear science that could encourage Americans to face masks, the issue has become mired in a political debate, most recently with a recent Trump campaign rally that where staffers appeared to thwart hygienic protections. "I'm not going to talk about politics," Azar said. "But we've seen mass gatherings over the last several weeks with people rightly expressing First Amendment and political views, and this is appropriate. But my message is one of public health, which is, if you're going to participate in any type of large gathering, I encourage you, consider your individual circumstance, consider the circumstance of those you live with and take appropriate precautions that are appropriate to yourself and your community." During the Sunday interview, Azar repeatedly emphasized the importance of personal hygiene and practices like face coverings as critical to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus but defended Trump's track record of attending rallies and other appearances without sporting a mask. "The president, we know, is a very unique circumstance as leader of the free world," Azar said. "He's tested constantly and those around him are tested constantly and they're kept at a distance even with that." Lawmakers and public health experts ramped up their calls for Americans to wear masks amid the surge of new cases. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump "cowardly" for not wearing a mask in public, arguing he should serve as an "example." "The president should be an example," Pelosi said Sunday. "Real men wear masks, be an example to the country, wear a mask." The US currently has more than 2.5 million coronavirus infections since the start of the outbreak and more than 125,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown
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Trump, who dismissed and refused to wear a face mask for months, now says wearing one is 'patriotic' like him
President Donald Trump has suggested he was "patriotic" for wearing a face mask — after months...President Donald Trump has suggested he was "patriotic" for wearing a face mask — after months of refusing to do so during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump had long pushed back against mandatory mask orders, and said he didn't need to wear one. He wore one in full display of the media for the first — and so far, only — time, while touring the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center earlier this month. On Monday he shared a picture of himself wearing a mask at what appears to be that event, adding: "Many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask" and "There is nobody more Patriotic than me." Sources told CNN that Trump was persuaded to encourage mask wearing when shown evidence that Americans don't approve of his response to the virus. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump has connected wearing a face mask with being "patriotic," marking his clearest endorsement of the step yet after months of mixed messages and refusing to wear one himself. Trump tweeted a picture of himself wearing a mask on Monday night, adding: "We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can't socially distance." "There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!" We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President! pic.twitter.com/iQOd1whktN — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2020 His tweet called the novel coronavirus the "China virus," repeating his controversial nickname for the disease that has been met with widespread criticism for connecting people of Chinese descent with the virus. Trump has only been pictured wearing a mask in public and in front of the press once since the pandemic began — while he toured the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. The picture tweeted by Trump on Monday appears to be from this event. Trump told Fox News Sunday that he wore the mask as he did not want to "spread anything" to the soldiers. But there may have been another motive. An unnamed official who was at the event told CNN that the president decided to wear a mask after being shown data indicating that Americans did not approve of Trump's response to the virus. Another advisor told CNN that Trump agreed to wear the mask after heavy "pleading" from aides, and that Trump had not wanted to be seen to be relenting to media pressure. While Trump has not wholly criticized medical advice that people should wear masks, he has repeatedly said that it was not necessary for him, as he is protected and regularly tested, and pushed back against making them mandatory. Trump had long avoided wearing one, and he reportedly believed that doing so would make him look ridiculous and harm his reelection chances. In May, the White House made all West Wing staffers to wear masks in the building, but the rule did not apply to Trump. Trump also went on to public events without wearing one. He was criticized in May for touring a Honeywell factory without wearing a mask, though he said he wore one "backstage," where no cameras were present. He also didn't wear one to tour a Ford factory, where he also said he wore on where the media could not see him, saying "I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it." In June, Trump said he believed that some Americans were wearing masks to show that they disapprove of him. On July 1, Trump said he was "all for masks," but was critical of the idea of mandatory face mask orders. In the Fox News Sunday interview, Trump dismissed Centers for Disease Control predictions that the virus could soon be brought under control if everyone wore masks. "I don't agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask everything disappears," he said. "All of sudden everybody's got to wear a mask, and as you know masks cause problems, too." But he later added: "With that being said, I'm a believer in masks. I think masks are good." Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House coronavirus task force, also told a meeting with governors on Monday that wearing masks and social distancing "dramatically decrease the rate of community spread," according to a recording obtained by The Daily Beast. In refusing to wear masks, Trump had stood out against other world leaders, and his presidential election rival Democrat Joe Biden. In late May, Trump shared a tweet mocking Biden for wearing a face mask at a public Memorial Day appearance.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button
South Africa Covid-19 deaths pass 5,000; UN makes urgent appeal for Sudan pandemic help; France to...South Africa Covid-19 deaths pass 5,000; UN makes urgent appeal for Sudan pandemic help; France to issue mask fines. Follow the latest updatesTrump calls Fauci ‘alarmist’ in Fox news interviewHong Kong makes masks mandatory indoorsBitter coronavirus summit exposes trust deficit among EU leadersGlobal wrap: Hong Kong outbreak ‘critical’ as Covid cases rise worldwideSee all our coronavirus coverage 1.29am BST People in France will risk a fine of €135 ($154) starting Monday for failure to comply with a new decree to wear a mask in public places indoors, the government announced, AFP reports. As officials noted signs of an uptick in virus circulation, Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday said masks will become compulsory in enclosed public spaces from next week in a bid to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections. 1.22am BST The United Nations has made an urgent appeal for US$283 million to help Sudan tackle the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences, as millions in the country face hunger. An official said the pandemic had worsened an economic crisis, hitting purchasing power, while movement restrictions had restricted people’s access to food, healthcare and basic services. Continue reading...
President Donald Trump wore a mask in public for the first time on Saturday during a...President Donald Trump wore a mask in public for the first time on Saturday during a trip to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He has been reluctant to wear a mask up to this point, but noted in a Fox News interview that he didn't want to "spread anything" to the soldiers. Public health experts have lamented his reluctance to don a face covering — research has shown that the practice can help prevent transmission of the coronavirus by blocking respiratory droplets. Trump has sent mixed messages on masks, at one point mocking others for wearing them, and at other points saying he was "all for masks." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump wore a mask in front of the public and the White House press corps on Saturday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. Trump, who has been reluctant to wear a mask in public, donned a navy blue mask with a gold presidential seal on the side during his trip to to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit injured service members. Trump had said in a Fox News interview on Thursday that he intended to wear the mask during his visit. "I think if I'm in the right setting, if I'm with soldiers… I don't want to spread anything," he told Sean Hannity. "I don't want to cause a problem for anybody. No, I have no problem with masks, but it's got to be done at the right time." Wearing a mask to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets that could cause coronavirus transmission has become a politicized issue in recent months, despite public health experts' efforts to encourage the public to don face coverings in public. Many Trump supporters have opted not to use the coverings, and photos and videos from recent Trump events in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and at Mount Rushmore, showed crowds with few masks visible. That has prompted a number of Republicans and prominent Trump allies to speak up in favor of masks. Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy even said Trump wearing one would "set a good example." Trump himself has sent mixed messages on the practice. At one point he shared a tweet that mocked his Democratic opponent Joe Biden for wearing a face mask, but on another occasion he said he was "all for masks" and said he thought they made him look like the Lone Ranger. Trump was previously spotted wearing a mask in late May during a trip to the Ford plant in Michigan, but he only wore it during a private part of the factory and did not wear it in front of the media. "I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it," he said.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button