President Donald Trump wore a mask Monday when he toured a factory in North Carolina working on a vaccine for the coronavirus.
The president’s tour only lasted a few minutes but it marked the second time he was seen in public with a face covering – a notable change in policy for Trump, who previously called wearing one a personal choice.
Trump was in North Carolina for a short trip to receive a briefing on the pandemic, giving him a chance for an update on the virus while visiting a state crucial to his 2020 re-election bid.
President Trump wore a face mask and socially distanced from Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies CEO Martin Meeson during a tour of the Bioprocess Innovation Center
President Trump was in North Carolina to receive an update on the search for a coronavirus vaccine
President Trump toured a factory that is working on a coronavirus vaccine
Monday marked the second time President Trump was seen wearing a mask in public
The president urged governors that were proceeding with caution to open up their states and he expressed confidence a vaccine would be available soon. He announced several million dollars was being given to various medical companies working on a cure.
Trump has pushed for the states to reopen quickly in order to get their economies back up and running. The president has banked his re-election campaign on a strong American economy but the market tanked and unemployment hit record highs after the pandemic hit.
‘I do believe that a lot of the governor should be opening up states that they are not opening, and we will see what happens,’ the president said.
Several states that have begun the reopening process – such as Texas, Florida, California and Arizona – have pulled back on it after coronavirus cases spiked.
But Trump said the U.S. was ‘mass producing’ possible vaccines so a cure can be deployed immediately once it is approved.
‘Instead of the usual sequence of vaccine development, testing and trials, followed by production, our strategy is to conduct these phases simultaneously, so everything goes at one time. We are not waiting and waiting and waiting,’ he said.
‘We are mass-producing all of the most promising vaccine candidates in advance so that on the day one that it’s approved, it will be available to the American people immediately and will probably have a lot for a lot of other people throughout the world. The world is suffering from this China virus,’ he said, using his moniker for COVID.
Trump’s visit to North Carolina came as a new poll of voters showed Joe Biden leading him in the key swing state.
Biden tops Trump by 7 points, 51 per cent to 44 per cent among registered voters, in a new NBC News/Marist poll that also shows Democrats in state races leading their Republican competition.
In March, Biden had a 4-point advantage against Trump in the state, 49 per cent to 45 per cent. The former vice president will be in Washington D.C. on Monday to pay his respects to the late Congressman John Lewis, who is lying in state at the U.S. Capitol building.
North Carolina will be a key state in the November presidential election and this is Trump’s 10th visit there since he entered the White House. The president won the state by almost 4 points in the 2016 election.
President Trump gives his signature thumbs up during a tour of a biomedical facility in North Carolina
Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in a new poll of North Carolina voters, topping the president by 7 points, 51 per cent to 44 per cent among registered voters, in a new NBC News/Marist poll
Meanwhile, in a sign Republicans are in trouble in the state, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who clashed with Trump over the Republicans’ efforts to hold an in-person convention in Charlotte in August, is leading his GOP rival Lt. Gov. Dan Forest by 20 points, 58 per cent to 38 per cent, in the NBC News/Marist poll.
And Republican Senator Thom Tillis, a close Trump ally on Capitol Hill, is trailing his Democratic opponent by 9 points. Tillis joined Trump Monday at his visit to the FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Innovation Center, which is working on the vaccine from the drug maker Novavax. Novavax received $1.6 billion under Operation Warp Speed – the Trump administration’s plan to mass-produce a vaccine.
The president’s visit comes on the same day the biggest COVID-19 vaccine study began as the first of 30,000 volunteers started to receive their shots. The administration has committed to purchasing 100 million doses of a not-yet-finished vaccine. There are several contenders in various stages of being tested.
Trump said during the trip that more companies are close to entering phase three of vaccine trials.
‘It’s not just one company. It’s many companies that have had tremendous progress,’ he said.
North Carolina has more than 113,000 cases of coronavirus and 1,807 deaths. The United States has topped more than 4,31 million cases and more than 149,000 deaths.
The factory President Trump will visit requires visitors to wear a mask, an edict he obeyed.
The president had originally balked at wearing a face mask, saying it was a personal choice and arguing he wasn’t a high risk for spreading the virus since he is tested for it regularly. He skipped wearing a mask at stops in Maine and Arizona. He was photographed back stage wearing one at a Ford factory visit in Michigan but had removed it when he went before the cameras.
Trump finally wore one openly in public when he visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center on July 11 and, last week, he urged people to wear one.
‘I have reminded people of the importance of masks when you can’t socially distance, in particular,’ he said during a press briefing at the White House.
‘Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact,’ he noted.
He also pulled a face mask out of his pocket to show he has one on him.
‘I bring one. I have one. I’ve worn it. And I think when I’m in certain settings, like hospitals and various – or when I’m close – when, you know, when you can’t socially distance, I believe in it,’ he said.
President Donald Trump urged people to wear face masks during a press briefing last week and pulled one out of his pocket to show he carries it
President Donald Trump, foreground left, wears a face mask as he walks with military officials during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11
The president’s approval rating is under water in North Carolina, with only 41 per cent of North Carolina voters approving of the job he is doing, the NBC News/Marist poll found.
And 60 per cent of voters said Governor Cooper was right to balk at the administration’s demand for a full, in-person political convention, which he told the president he could not guarantee because of concerns about the coronavirus.
Trump retaliated by announcing he was moving the bulk of the GOP convention, including his speech accepting the party’s nomination for a second term, to Jacksonville, Florida.
But last week the president announced that event would be canceled due to rising cases of the coronavirus in Florida, which is becoming a new epicenter for infection. Total cases in Florida rose by 9,300 to 423,855 on Sunday, putting the state just one place behind California, which now leads the country with 448,497 cases. New York is in third place with 415,827 cases.
‘I told told my team it’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida component of the GOP convention,’ Trump said last Thursday at a press briefing.
The Republican National convention will start on August 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina – which had always been the plan. On that day will be the official roll call of delegates, which is the formal process that makes Trump the Republican nominee for president.
President Trump didn’t commit to holding a full convention back in Charlotte, saying he would hold ‘tele-rallies’ through the week.
‘And I’ll still do a convention speech in a different form, but we won’t do a big, crowded convention per say. It’s just not the right time for that,’ the president said.