Upon his departure from the White House, President Trump discusses an internal administration report on the potential COVID-19 death toll for May
WASHINGTON – Honeywell officials declined to comment Thursday on President Donald Trump’s assertion that he was exempted from wearing a mask during a tour of an Arizona face mask facility this week, saying only that people around him did not have to wear them.
Honeywell also did not address Trump’s claim that he actually wore one briefly.
Trump drew fire Tuesday for not wearing a mask during a tour of the Arizona facility. The president claimed that he had worn a mask “back stage” before he walked into view of the cameras. He also said Honeywell’s CEO told him he did not have to wear a mask.
Reached by USA TODAY on Thursday, a Honeywell spokesman said it would not comment on Trump’s actions or statements. A company statement said only that some people who were near the president were exempted while he met with workers at the facility because they had been tested for the virus.
“Following White House recommended protocol, a small number of individuals directly interfacing with the President on Tuesday were tested for COVID-19 immediately prior to the event, received negative test results, and were permitted to not wear masks during portions of the visit based on that medical screening,” Honeywell said in a statement.
Honeywell, which did not comment beyond its statement, added that “all others present were wearing masks and social distancing in accordance with Honeywell’s site policy.”
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Trump took criticism for not wearing a mask while touring the plant, just as Vice President Mike Pence did when he declined to wear a mask during a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Pence later said that he should have worn a mask, which is recommended – but not required – by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday at the White House, Trump said, “I had a mask on for a period of time” before the event. He also said he was told by a unnamed company official that he didn’t need to wear a mask.
“I can’t help it if you didn’t see me,” Trump said. “I mean, I had a mask on, but I didn’t need it. And I asked specifically the head of Honeywell, ‘Should I wear a mask?’ And he said, ‘Well, you don’t need one in this territory.'”
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Honeywell’s CEO told the president that “there was no need” to wear a mask so Trump “followed that.”
The president did wear goggles during the tour.
Critics said Trump should have worn a mask anyway.
“Masking the truth, but never his mouth,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said that when Trump is out in public, “it would be setting a good example for him to wear a mask.”
She added: “I personally think that he should, but obviously that’s his call.”
Contributing: John Fritze, Christal Hayes
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