When a 50-year-old woman steps out in public wearing a face mask in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s generally not noteworthy. But when said woman is the president’s wife — it’s a national news story.
On Sunday, five months into the COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed more than 137,000 American lives thus far, First Lady Melania Trump stepped out in public wearing a mask to safeguard against the spread of coronavirus for the first time.
"It was a pleasure to spend time with the staff, mothers & children at The Mary Elizabeth House, a place that helps strengthen families & provides life skills, counseling & educational resources to help vulnerable single women & their children. #BeBest," Trump wrote in a tweet alongside the video.
Although the First Lady posted about the importance of wearing a mask to stall the spread of coronavirus back in April (“Take social distancing & wearing a mask/face covering seriously. #COVID19 is a virus that can spread to anyone,” she wrote on Twitter), neither she nor her husband, President Donald Trump, had sported the protective face coverings publicly until last weekend. Trump, in all his presidential power, has previously stated that he won't be wearing a mask in public saying that he doesn't "see it happening." The president also mocked assumed Democratic nominee Joe Biden for wearing a mask before.
But it looks like things have changed, as wearing a mask has become a political debate in the months since the pandemic started. On Saturday, Trump wore a mask — publicly — during a visit with wounded veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
The reversal brings the Trumps into line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on continuing to wear the masks in public in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which is believed to be highly transmissible through respiratory droplets released into the air, even when a potential carrier is asymptomatic. The president has been notoriously averse to heeding the conventional wisdom on mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and has even gone so far as to host his infamous open-air rallies despite the fact that new instances of the virus continue to surge across the country.
Melania Trump, despite her previous insistence that wearing a mask is necessary, has remained quiet in the face of her husband's protest against them. The Trumps, it’s worth noting, are no strangers to flouting traditionally observed sartorial norms. During a trip to visit children detained in a border camp amid the Trump administration’s immigration fiasco of 2018, Melania famously wore a jacket emblazoned with the phrase “I really don’t care, do you?” And the president himself, famously, once defied the advice of medical professionals and opted to forego protective glasses in order to stare bravely into the sun during a solar eclipse
Let's not commend the Trumps yet, though — after all, they're just doing what we're all supposed to be doing amid a pandemic