Patrick Semansky / AP
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wore a mask during a visit to a military hospital on Saturday, one of the only times the president has been seen wearing a face covering.
Trump flew by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Washington, D.C., to meet wounded service members and health-care providers caring for COVID-19 patients.
As he left the White House, he told reporters: “When you’re in a hospital, especially … I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask.”
Trump was not wearing a mask when he stepped off the helicopter at the facility, but he donned one as he began his visit.
Some prominent Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, endorsed wearing masks this summer.
Trump also was photographed wearing a mask during a tour of a Michigan Ford factory in May.
Republican governors have been moving toward requiring or encouraging the use of masks as the coronavirus pandemic has grown in some states in the South and West.
Trump, however, has declined to wear a mask at news conferences, coronavirus task force updates, rallies and other public events.
While not wearing a mask himself, Trump has acknowledged that face coverings would be appropriate if worn in an indoor setting where people were close together. But he has accused reporters of wearing them to be politically correct and has retweeted messages making fun of Democrat Joe Biden for wearing a mask and implying that Biden looks weak.
It is not known whether Trump will wear a mask with any regularity.
The wearing of masks became another political dividing line, with Republicans more opposed to wearing them than Democrats.
Few masks were seen at recent Trump campaign events in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Phoenix; and South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore.
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