Gulf Between White House’s Words, Trump’s Actions on Masks | Health News

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE and AAMER MADHANI, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House officials insist that President Donald Trump strongly supports face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus and always has. But the president’s own words and actions tell a very different — and sometimes puzzling — story.

That’s created a gulf between Trump and public health officials that keeps widening six months after the virus took root in the U.S., with the president undercutting medical experts who say consistent face covering is one of the best tools to fight the pandemic.

Trump initially dismissed mask wearing for himself, then allowed himself to be seen wearing one while visiting a military hospital. He has called it “patriotic” to wear a mask but seldom passes up an opportunity to mock Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for his routine mask wearing.

On Wednesday, after the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Congress that his mask might even be a better guarantee than a vaccine against the virus, Trump publicly undercut Dr. Robert Redfield.

“As far as the mask is concerned, he made a mistake,” said Trump.

Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said he’s “bewildered” by Trump’s ambiguity about masks. He said widespread use would also help restore economic vitality faster, a prime Trump goal.

“I don’t think that there’s any controversy about masks anywhere in the world,” Inglesby said. “Why we continue to have this debate about it is a mystery.”

Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University’s law school, said Trump’s vacillation between portraying masks as an infringement on personal rights and touting them as crucial to stemming the virus has left Americans “absolutely dazed and confused.”

“One could forgive the American public for not trusting anyone,” Gostin said.

But Gostin also faulted Redfield for asserting that masks are more important than an eventual vaccine, at least until one is approved. Suggesting that being vaccinated is less important as long as people are wearing masks has further clouded the public message, Gostin said.

Public health experts largely agree that COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, will be brought under control through a combination of social distancing, mask wearing and a vaccine.

“One of those three is not enough, you need all three,” Gostin said. “It’s such a simple message. It’s just befuddling that the White House doesn’t consistently state that message.”

Trump has very seldom worn a mask for the world to see, though he is regularly tested for COVID-19 and says he does wear one when he can’t practice social distancing. At one point, he suggested that the reason some people wear masks is to make a political statement against him.

The CDC recommended in April that people wear cloth face coverings in public when it’s difficult to be socially distant. But Trump immediately undercut the guidance, declaring he wouldn’t follow it and suggesting it would be unseemly to

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Gulf between White House’s words, Trump’s actions on masks

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House officials insist that President Donald Trump strongly supports face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus and always has. But the president’s own words and actions tell a very different — and sometimes puzzling — story.

That’s created a gulf between Trump and public health officials that keeps widening six months after the virus took root in the U.S., with the president undercutting medical experts who say consistent face covering is one of the best tools to fight the pandemic.

Trump initially dismissed mask wearing for himself, then allowed himself to be seen wearing one while visiting a military hospital. He has called it “patriotic” to wear a mask but seldom passes up an opportunity to mock Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for his routine mask wearing.

On Wednesday, after the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Congress that his mask might even be a better guarantee than a vaccine against the virus, Trump publicly undercut Dr. Robert Redfield.

“As far as the mask is concerned, he made a mistake,” said Trump.

Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said he’s “bewildered” by Trump’s ambiguity about masks. He said widespread use would also help restore economic vitality faster, a prime Trump goal.

“I don’t think that there’s any controversy about masks anywhere in the world,” Inglesby said. “Why we continue to have this debate about it is a mystery.”

Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University’s law school, said Trump’s vacillation between portraying masks as an infringement on personal rights and touting them as crucial to stemming the virus has left Americans “absolutely dazed and confused.”

“One could forgive the American public for not trusting anyone,” Gostin said.

But Gostin also faulted Redfield for asserting that masks are more important than an eventual vaccine, at least until one is approved. Suggesting that being vaccinated is less important as long as people are wearing masks has further clouded the public message, Gostin said.

Public health experts largely agree that COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, will be brought under control through a combination of social distancing, mask wearing and a vaccine.

“One of those three is not enough, you need all three,” Gostin said. “It’s such a simple message. It’s just befuddling that the White House doesn’t consistently state that message.”

Trump has very seldom worn a mask for the world to see, though he is regularly tested for COVID-19 and says he does wear one when he can’t practice social distancing. At one point, he suggested that the reason some people wear masks is to make a political statement against him.

The CDC recommended in April that people wear cloth face coverings in public when it’s difficult to be socially distant. But Trump immediately undercut the guidance, declaring he wouldn’t follow it and suggesting it would be unseemly to be masked in a meeting with a head

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Two Gulf nations will recognize Israel at the White House. Here’s what’s in it for all sides

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will join the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House to mark historic normalization agreements between Israel and the two Arab countries.



a man wearing a suit and tie: WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on January 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump said tomorrow he will announce the administration's much-anticipated plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)


© Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 27: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on January 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump said tomorrow he will announce the administration’s much-anticipated plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The last time such a ceremony took place in Washington was in 1994, when President Bill Clinton looked on as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jordanian King Hussein signed a declaration that paved the way for a peace deal months later.

For Trump, the timing is crucial. Less than two months before an election in which he trails in the polls, normalization agreements between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain are major foreign policy achievements, even if the region was gradually moving towards these relationships regardless of who occupied the White House.

How did we get here?

For years, Israel has had covert relations with many of the Sunni Gulf states, driven in recent years by a mutual de facto alliance against Iran. Even so, the relations pre-date the Iran nuclear deal by more than a decade in some cases, as Gulf states looked to take advantage of Israel’s high-tech scene and Israel looked to secure its place in a turbulent Middle East.

Chief among these behind-the-scenes relations was the United Arab Emirates, with numerous public examples of the growing ties between the two states becoming more common. In late-2015, Israel opened a diplomatic-level mission to the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi. In 2018, then-culture minister Miri Regev made a state visit to the Grand Mosque on the heels of an Israeli gold medal at a judo tournament in the Emirates. Israel was also invited to Expo 2020 Dubai, a world expo that has since been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.



a large building with White House in the background: The White House stands in Washington D.C., on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.


© Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The White House stands in Washington D.C., on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.

Like the UAE, Bahrain also had covert ties with Israel stretching back years. In addition, Bahrain has a small but sustained Jewish community, with one of its members serving as the country’s ambassador to the United States from 2008-2013. The small Gulf kingdom also hosted the unveiling of the economic portion of the White House’s plan for Middle East peace, signaling a willingness to engage with the US — and subsequently Israel — on the issue, even at a time when no progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears possible.

Crucially the UAE and Bahrain are also close allies of the US, with each country hosting a significant US military presence. The US Air Force has deployed F-35 fighter jets to an air base in Abu Dhabi, while the Navy’s Fifth Fleet and Central Command are based in Bahrain.

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