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President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit a Ford plant in Michigan on Thursday in defiance of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order against such ‘non-essential’ public appearances.
The Detroit News reported that the president will visit Ford Motor Co.’s Rawsonville manufacturing plant in Ypsilanti in spite of Whitmer’s increasingly unpopular shutdown order which she claims must be extended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
And while the Ford plant’s managers plan to ask Trump to wear a mask during his visit, it’s not clear that he will, given his reluctance to wear one in any other public venue thus far.
A spokesman for the governor said she’s not going to try and block President Trump’s visit despite the fact that it contradicts her executive order, which directs factories and manufacturers to “suspend all non-essential in-person visits, including tours.”
“Ford and the UAW are doing incredible work for the country, and their ingenuity will save lives,” said Zack Pohl, Whitmer’s communications director, in a statement. “While the president’s visit is contrary to the governor’s order, this is an opportunity to showcase how important Michigan is to the response to COVID-19 and rebuilding our nation’s economy.”
At the White House, the president was asked if he planned to wear a mask during Thursday’s visit but he said he hadn’t given the issue much thought.
“I haven’t even thought of it. It depends. In certain areas I would, in certain areas I don’t. But I will certainly look at it,” he said.
“It depends on what situation. Am I standing right next to everybody, or am I spread out? And also you look, is something a hospital? Is it a ward? What is it exactly? I’m going to a plant. So we’ll see. Where it’s appropriate I would do it certainly.”
White House officials said that the president, who has blasted Whitmer and her heavy-handed and often nonsensical lockdown in the past, is scheduled to tour the Rawsonville plant and make remarks. The plant has been retooled to manufacture ventilators amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement to the newspaper, a Ford spokesperson said, “In preparation for the visit, we’ve shared with the White House all of Ford’s safety protocols, including our self-assessment, thermal scanning and manufacturing playbook which outlines our policy that everyone wears PPE.”
In an additional statement, plant officials added: “As we have said previously, we shared our safety policies and recommendations with the White House in advance of this visit. The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination.”
In early April, Trump said he wasn’t planning to don a face mask during public events or at the White House, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“The CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure,” he said April 3. “So it’s voluntary. You don’t have to do it. But they suggest it for a period of time. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
The CDC’s guidelines currently do not mandate the use of face masks to protect against coronavirus, even in public. Rather, the health agency recommends distancing (6 feet), “avoiding people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes or nose, and covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue.”
“People who are sick should stay home and not go into crowded public places or visit people in hospitals,” the agency adds.
The president has called on Whitmer, who is reportedly being considered to be presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, to relax her stringent lockdown order.
He implored her on May 1 to “give a little” and “put out the fire” following demonstrations by protesters at the state Capitol.
But it’s obvious residents are tiring of her stay-at-home mandate. After she extended her lockdown last week, 1 million residents ignored it and ventured out, according to reports.
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