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President Trump on Thursday said he removed his face mask during a tour of a Ford plant in Michigan because he "didn’t want to give the press the pleasure” of seeing him wearing the protective covering.

The state of play: Trump said he kept a mask on during a private portion of the tour, but took it off once in-view of the press. An open letter from Michigan’s attorney general warned that it was “the law of this state" to wear a mask.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that people wear facial coverings when in public to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Michigan currently has one of the highest case counts in the U.S., with 53,512 positive tests and 5,129 deaths.

What he's saying: The president noted that he is regularly tested for the virus, as recently as Thursday morning.

  • "I had [a mask] on in an area where they preferred it," Trump said.
  • When asked about the example his choice sets for Americans, Trump responded: "I think it sets an example. I think it sets an example both ways."
  • During Thursday's visit, Trump pushed to ease social-distancing restrictions. He blamed Democrats for stalling the economy, saying they were “hurting their states."

Between the lines: White House rules now require staff to wear masks while in the West Wing, though Trump has largely refused to wear one publicly amid the pandemic.

  • Multiple White House staffers have tested positive for the virus, including Trump's valet.

Vice President Mike Pence has also scarcely worn a mask in public. He wore one while touring a General Motors plant in Indiana after receiving backlash following a visit to the Mayo Clinic.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

Between the lines of Trump's RNC speech

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

After spending four years pushing away all but his hardest core, President Trump used the Republican National Convention to try to belatedly reel back big swaths of the electorate who like his policies but don't like him.

The state of play: The Trump campaign is gambling that even Americans who hate his style will ultimately vote on what they think affects them most directly.

Updated Sep 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers — CDC director approves Pfizer boosters, adds eligibility for high-risk workers — FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up.
  2. Health: America's mismatched COVID fears — Some experts see signs of hope as cases fall — WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover — D.C. goes further than area counties with vaccine mandates.
  3. Politics: Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit — United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated — Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples.
  4. Education: Health care workers and teachers caught up in booster confusion — Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine — Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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