President Donald Trump is “clearly flirting with disaster” by holding rallies and attending events without wearing a mask, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who was an adviser to the White House medical team under President George W. Bush, said Thursday evening.
“Just because he’s tested frequently — (it) isn’t a Superman cape. He can get the virus,” Reiner told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “OutFront.” “The more he flirts with this, the higher the likelihood that he’ll get it.”
The President, Reiner continued, “is over 70 and he’s obese. He probably has close to a 20% chance of dying if he contracts the virus.”
The doctor’s message comes one day before Trump plans to travel to South Dakota for a fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore, where those attending are not required to wear masks or to social-distance, according to the state’s governor.
The President has made significant efforts to downplay — or outright ignore — the pandemic in recent weeks, painting a rosy picture of his administration’s response and pushing reopenings even as states across the country grapple with new surges of the virus.
Last month, Trump faced sharp criticism for his large, in-person rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where multiple campaign staffers and Secret Service agents tested positive for the virus.
“If you think about it, he went to Tulsa during a surge in viral activity there. He was in a tightly packed venue with thousands of people, almost all who were not wearing masks, and this is how you get, how you acquire, the virus,” Reiner said.
Trump said earlier this week that he would have “no problem” wearing a face mask in public in certain circumstances — a pivot from his months-long refusal to wear one in public at events where social distancing was not always observed.
When asked whether he would wear a mask, Trump told Fox Business in a White House interview, “Oh, I would. I have. I mean people have seen me wearing one. If I’m in a group of people where we’re not 10 feet away — but usually I’m not in that position and everyone’s tested.”
Trump said he didn’t believe making masks mandatory across the country was necessary but claimed that he is “all for masks” and he thinks “masks are good.”
Still, the President hasn’t worn a face mask in front of cameras since the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided new guidelines in April encouraging Americans to wear facial coverings when social distancing was not an option.
When the CDC guidelines went into effect, Trump told reporters he probably wouldn’t adopt the practice.
“I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” he said at the time. “Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I just don’t see it.”