After long resisting wearing a mask in public, US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he likes that it makes him look like a Lone Ranger.
Trump’s comments came as the number of infections in the US increased by 52,000 on Wednesday — a new one-day record rise.
The US leader has long resisted being photographed in a mask but has been under increased pressure, including from Republican lawmakers to set a good example and wear one.
“I’m all for masks. I think masks are good,” Trump told Fox Business in an interview. “People have seen me wearing one.”
“If I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely,” Trump said in the interview.
“It looked like the Lone Ranger,” he continued, a reference to the fictional law-and-order character from the American Old West who wore a black eye mask. “I have no problem with that, and if people feel good about it, they should do it.”
Other world leaders, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau and France’s Emmanuel Macron, have worn masks in public to encourage their use.
In recent days, many Republicans and members of the White House coronavirus task force have been more outspoken in advocating for Americans to wear face masks in public settings as infections have surged in huge swaths of the South and West.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, said last week that he would pursue a federal mask mandate, if elected. In the interview, Trump suggested a federal mandate was unnecessary and continued to frame mask-wearing as a matter of choice.
Even so, Trump criticized Biden for wearing a mask while he is some distance away from his audience and for speaking through the covering at times.
About the virus, Trump continued to characterize it as a nuisance that he hopes will just go away.
The US is the world’s most heavily impacted country with more than 2.6 million confirmed infections and 128,062 COVID-19 fatalities recorded as of Wednesday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
“Trump told Fox Business: “I think we are going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”
The president also continued to push back against the notion that some states may have been too quick to open up. Several states, including Florida, New York and Texas, have paused or slowed down reopening amid the recent increase in confirmed cases.