ALLENTOWN – Without wearing a face mask himself, US President Donald Trump visited a mask distribution center in Pennsylvania on Thursday and announced plans to replenish the U.S. strategic supply of medical equipment depleted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump, a Republican running for reelection in November, has resisted wearing a mask in public despite his government’s instructions to Americans to wear it and new White House rules requiring staff she wears at work.
The president visited the Owens & Minor Inc distribution center, which, according to the White House, has sent millions of N95 masks, gowns, and gloves to hospitals and surgical centers in the United States. Company officials wore masks.
Trump visited a mask factory in Arizona last week when he wasn’t wearing any face covering either, although he said he tried a few backstage.
Pennsylvania is a political rocking state that has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats in presidential elections. Although the Thursday event was hosted by the White House, it had a campaign undertone, with music similar to what is played at Trump’s meetings and a pejorative reference by the President to his expected Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden .
Trump accused the Obama administration of exhausting stock. Trump has been in office for three years; the coronavirus outbreak started hitting the United States earlier this year.
Trump said his government is aiming to keep three-month supplies in reserve instead of one to three weeks.
“I am determined that America will be fully prepared for future outbreaks, which we hope will not be there,” he said in comments after his tour.
The president has previously tried to minimize the possibility that the coronavirus will return in the fall, although doctors have said it is very likely.
A senior government official told reporters earlier on Thursday that the Trump administration wanted to add 300 million N95 masks, the respiratory protective equipment essential to protecting medical personnel from the deadly coronavirus, by the fall.
The official said the government ultimately hoped to replenish its strategic national stock, which had only 13 million N95s at the start of the outbreak, to 1 billion in total.
The government is seeking to support medical supplies as part of an effort to prepare for future flare-ups of coronavirus cases as states across the country begin to reopen after closures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.