Trump peddles misleading information about mask-wearing during presidential town hall

The audience crowds together at the Pence rally in Gilford, NH on Sept. 22, 2020. Few followed COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and some said they "proudly" didn't wear masks, claiming it was "a personal choice that affected only them." Photo by Toni Caushi/BU News Service

By Toni Caushi
BU News Service

President Donald Trump once again distorted findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about mask-wearing during his MSNBC town hall on Thursday night, claiming that most people who wear masks are more likely to be infected with COVID-19.

“I’m okay with masks, and I tell people to wear masks, but just the other day [the CDC] came out with the statement that 85% of the people that wear masks catch [COVID-19],” said Trump during the town hall in Miami. 

Trump referred to a study released by the CDC on Sept. 11, which found that 70.6 percent of COVID-19 patients always wore masks and 14.4% wore one often. 

However, the CDC found limitations to the report acknowledging the modesty of the sample size, stating that it “might not be representative of the United States population.” The findings were obtained from a sample of 314 adults who had sought care in eleven US healthcare facilities solely during July. 

Trump has repeated the statement numerous times since the publication of the study to which the CDC has responded on Oct. 14. by tweeting from their official account that “the interpretation that more mask-wearers are getting infected compared to non-mask wearers is incorrect.”

On Thursday, Trump reinforced his belief by drawing from examples of political figures who hail mask-wearing but have had incidences of infections like the Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam and the recent diagnoses in the opposing political camp. 

“The Governor of Virginia was known for a mask, Tom Tillis always had a mask,” said Trump. “Kamala has got people now that have it.” 

The discussion comes in response to relaxed mask requirements during presidential campaign rallies and the maskless White House event, which is believed to be the source of the outbreak that infected the President and First Lady in early October. 

Trump did not mention the maskless rallies, but he justified the phenomenon by mentioning the rigorous testing performed in his circles by saying that “they do a lot of testing in the White House.” He shrugged off his own infection as “something happened.”

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