Trump Says Masks Are Worn to Spite Him, Fauci Warns Against “Anti-Science Bias”

President Donald Trump says he doesn’t trust masks or facial coverings, believing they’re possibly exacerbating, not limiting, the spread of coronavirus across the United States.

The president made comments indicating his mistrust of masks in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, which was published this week on Thursday.

Trump said he believes masks and facial coverings don’t work to prevent COVID-19 infections because people fidget with them too much.

“They put their finger on the mask, and they take them off, and then they start touching their eyes and touching their nose and their mouth,” he explained. “And then they don’t know how they caught it?”

Trump also told the publication that he believes some Americans who wear masks are doing so out of spite toward him, perhaps to signal disapproval of his presidency more than out of legitimate concern for preventing the spread of the disease.

The president notoriously doesn’t wear a mask in public for what appears to be reasons of vanity, telling reporters earlier this year that he worried how he might be perceived while speaking to world leaders if he had a covering on his face.

“I just don’t want to be doing — I don’t know, somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens. I don’t know, somehow, I don’t see it for myself,” Trump said in April.

Trump’s refusal to wear a mask or facial covering runs counter to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That agency says that masks should be worn whenever possible, if one has to venture out into public.

Yet, in spite of these warnings from the CDC, some have viewed Trump’s refusal to wear a mask and have adopted it for themselves, whether out of vanity too, or for a number of other reasons, including as part of a new culture war issue. Indeed, recent polls have found that Trump supporters are less likely to wear a facial covering in public than are members of the general public.

Scientific study on the use of masks couldn’t be clearer, however — they absolutely work to stop the spread of COVID-19. One study found that, between the dates of April 8 and May 15, between 230,000 and 450,000 cases of the disease may have been prevented due to mandates in areas where masks were required.

Trump and many of his supporters refuse to adhere to what scientific research has to say on the issue. Such disdain for science, according to White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci, is troubling and becoming too common among Americans overall.

Speaking on the Department of Health and Human Services’ podcast “Learning Curve,” Fauci, who also serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he believes adherence to the advice of health experts (such as stay-at-home orders in a number of states) has saved “millions of lives” over the past few months. But too many do not trust science in a general sense, he added.

“One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said on the program.

Fauci has frequently contradicted the president’s rosy outlook on coronavirus. As Trump has suggested over the past few weeks that the disease is diminishing — in spite of tens of thousands of Americans contracting it on a daily basis — Fauci has issued more serious warnings about COVID-19.

“In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world. And it isn’t over yet,” Fauci said last week, with the added warning given that the disease wouldn’t “burn itself out.”

On masks specifically, Fauci is in support of people wearing them when they’re out and about, noting in an interview earlier this month with CNBC that not doing so might result in dire outcomes.

“When you have crowds of people together and you have the lack of wearing a mask, that increases the risk of there being transmissibility. I have no doubt about that,” Fauci said.