Trump rejects mask mandate as 60pc disapprove of his handling of Covid
| July 19th 2020
US President Donald Trump says he won’t issue an order at the national level mandating the use of masks, even as 60 per cent of Americans now disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
A new poll released on Friday, shown in the Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted between July 12 and 15, shows that three in five Americans don't like their president's actions, a rise of 15 percentage points since March.
The latest survey showed 52 per cent of the respondents “strongly” disapproved of Trump’s tackling of the crisis, up nine percentage points since May and 16 points since March.
Meanwhile, those who approved of Trump’s response to the pandemic fell to 38 per cent from 46 per cent in May and 51 per cent in March. In addition, the proportion of respondents considering controlling the spread of the virus to be more important - 63 per cent - nearly doubled the 33 per cent who believed restarting the economy to be more of an urgent issue, the poll indicated.
A similarly wide gap was shown between the strong proponents of curtailing the transmission and the firm believer in reopening the economy, representing 52 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively.
The United States continues to break its single-day coronavirus case record amid a pandemic far from being contained, and whether to wear masks has become a source of heated debate.
Asked by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace if he would consider issuing a national mask mandate to slow the spread of the virus, Trump said: “No, I want people to have a certain freedom and I don’t believe in that, no,” according to a clip of the Fox News Sunday show.
“I don’t agree with the statement that if everyone wore a mask, everything disappears,” the president added, as Wallace pointed out that the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the virus would be brought under control if everyone wore a mask.
“Dr (Anthony) Fauci said don’t wear a mask, our surgeon general - terrific guy - said don’t wear a mask. Everybody was saying don’t wear a mask, all of a sudden everybody’s got to wear a mask,” Trump said. “And as you know, masks cause problems too. With that being said, I am a believer in masks. I think masks are good.”
Trump has been refusing to wear a mask himself since the pandemic broke out, citing his good health and frequent negative tests for the virus. He was seen wearing a mask in public for the first time on July 11 while visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland.
In recent weeks, though, even Republicans have rallied around wearing masks, with at least one GOP lawmaker bluntly suggesting that Trump himself do so publicly.
Regretting the fact that the “simple lifesaving practice” of wearing a mask has been politicised to showcase whether one supports Trump or not, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said on June 30 that he had “suggested the president should occasionally wear a mask even though there are not many occasions when it is necessary for him to do so”.
Meanwhile, governors and municipal-level officials have requested that residents wear masks to halt the virus resurgence.
Trump and other administration officials have repeatedly argued for reopening the country, even though public health experts have continuously warned against doing so prematurely. The poll, which surveyed a random national sample of 1,006 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, came at a time when Trump was severely criticised by current and former officials for failing to effectively contain the outbreak.
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By Sara Okuoro