Mask-less Trump visits mask factory in Arizona

Camille Elemia
President Donald Trump's first major trip since the lockdown comes with political color, as he mentions the elections and endorses his political allies

NO MASK. President Donald Trump visited a new faciliting in Phoenix, Arizona that produces N95 respirators. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP

ARIZONA, United States – President Donald Trump on Tuesday, May 5, visited a mask production facility in Phoenix – his first major trip outside the Washington DC area since the coronavirus lockdown began.

Trump and his companions did not wear masks, as they visited Honeywell International facility, an aerospace defense contractor that has now transitioned to N95 mask production in response to the pandemic. The president only wore a pair of protective goggles as he toured the plant.

This was in stark contrast with the employees wearing masks – some of whom gave brief remarks during Trump’s speech. Those who attended his speech were seated far from each other.

“You’re making high-quality N95 respirators. There’s no bad masks, like various countries have been sending some very bad masks from other places. There’s nothing like that in Honeywell,” Trump said in his address to the workers.

Trump has repeatedly refused to wear a mask, despite federal rules calling on all Americans to do so.

“I’m going to have to look at the climate. I’d have no problem wearing a mask. I don’t know,” he earlier said at the White House.

Trump, however, was presented one of the masks, which was mounted on a plaque.

Honeywell’s transition to mask production has opened 500 jobs in the state. 

Together with another facility in Rhode Island, Honeywell said they will be able to produce 20 million masks monthly to help frontline workers.

Battleground state

Trump’s trip to Arizona is seen as a political move, as the known conservative state is now widely believed to be a battleground in the 2020 presidential polls.

He first visited the state on February 19 to hold a rally. While there was no huge event this time, Trump still did mention the elections in his speech.

“I’m thrilled to be in the fantastic state of Arizona. I love Arizona…. I had some good moments here especially on election day. It was a good moment, right?”

A Latino couple told Trump that they would be voting for him. The man spoke in English, while his wife spoke in Spanish.

“I think you’re doing a great job…. I think most of us, all Latinos are gonna vote for you,” the man said.

Arizona is one of the states bordering the US and Mexico and has a high concentration of Latinos. Trump’s controversial immigration policies have affected them, as well as Central American migrants fleeing violence at home. (READ: Lost and rejected, U.S. asylum seekers find refuge in Mexico shelter)

Trump also made sure to pitch for his allies, Governor Doug Ducey and US Senator Martha McSally, who is running against Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly. Recent polls show McSally is lagging behind her rival.

“[She] is a fantastic person. She’s fighting to uncover the whole truth of the China situation and how the World Health Organization handled the outbreak and what happened…. She is bringing huge amounts of dollars to her state, and she loves so much the state of Arizona,” Trump said.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden slammed Trump ahead of his Phoenix visit. The former vice president said Trump’s visit would not be able to hide his failures to contain the virus, which has infected more than 1 million and killed nearly 70,000 people in the US.

“President Trump will try to paper over his administration’s failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic when he travels today to Arizona — but nothing can cover up how he failed to prepare our country for this pandemic and his slow response,” Biden said in a statement.

“Grandstanding isn’t going to help Arizonans get the resources they need to move forward. What we need is action.” – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com