Donald Trump has refused to wear a face mask once again during a tour in Michigan – despite an official warning he could be banned from visiting the state if he did so.
The president was visiting a factory belonging to the Ford Motor Company, which has shifted its focus to manufacturing ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Mr Trump’s defiance came despite Ford’s own policy stating that all visitors must wear a face mask at its sites.
Surrounded by executives wearing masks, he told reporters: “I had one on before. I wore one in the back area. I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
At one point, he took out a White House-branded mask from his pocket, and said he had worn it elsewhere on the tour while out of public view.
The 73-year-old has consistently disregarded guidance from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, urging Americans to wear masks in close company to try and curb the spread of coronavirus.
Although the company “encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived” at the plant in Ypsilanti, executive chairman Bill Ford said: “It’s up to him.”
Prior to the president’s visit, Michigan’s attorney general Dana Nessel had warned that wearing a face mask was the law in the state – and if Mr Trump failed to do so, he would be told not to return to enclosed facilities there.
Ms Nessel told CNN: “If we know that he’s coming to our state and we know he’s not going to follow the law, I think we’re going to have to take action against any company or facility that allows him inside those facilities and puts our workers at risk.
“We just simply can’t afford it here in our state.”
At least two people who work in the White House and had been physically close to Mr Trump have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.
However, the president is tested daily, and said on Thursday that he had tested negative.
Speaking to reporters during the tour of the car plant, the president also suggested that he will start staging campaign rallies at outdoor sites.
With little more than five months left until the presidential election, Mr Trump is behind his Democratic rival Joe Biden in national polls – as well as some battleground states such as Michigan, which he won four years ago.
An official working for Mr Trump’s campaign said outdoor rallies could take place as early as the middle of June, adding: “It’s clear he’s chomping at the bit to resume the rallies.”
But another adviser to the president suggested this timetable might be too optimistic, meaning such events might have to wait until after the 4 July holiday.
The president has been warned that the 2020 race is going to be much tougher than his surprise victory in 2016.
More than 94,000 people have died with coronavirus in the US, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
The country also has over 1.5 million confirmed cases, with the president claiming he views this as a “badge of honour” and a tribute to the volumes of testing taking place.
On Monday, Mr Trump revealed he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against coronavirus, despite it being unproven as an effective COVID-19 treatment.
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