Alex Azar Struggles to Explain Discrepancy Between Trump and Health Officials on Mask Wearing

Alex Azar Struggles to Explain Discrepancy Between Trump and Health Officials on Mask Wearing

Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was forced to defend the discrepancy between the messaging of public health officials and President Trump over the need to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Azar was pressed by Chuck Todd about whether the president is setting a good example by not being as strict about the issue.

“Without the President of the United States doing this, how is half the country going to listen? Have you directly asked the president to please ask the country to wear a mask?” Todd asked.

“So I’m the president’s secretary of health. I’m telling you, practice social distancing where you can’t appropriately social distance,” Azar said. “We encourage you to wear a facial covering. The Vice President of the United States stood on stage, walked up on stage wearing a mask even though he doesn’t need to, in the sense that everyone around him is tested and he’s in a bubble.”

Todd brought up how Trump held two indoor rallies in the past week and “doesn’t talk about wearing a mask.”

“And you avoided my question whether you’ve asked the president to at least ask the country to wear a mask,” Todd continued. “Just because you put guidelines under his name — when he doesn’t do it, his people don’t listen.”

Azar replied by asserting he is “not going to talk about politics.”

“We’ve seen mass gatherings over the last several weeks with people rightly expressing First Amendment and political views and this is appropriate,” Azar said. “But my message is one of public health, which is: If you’re going to participate in any type of large gathering, I encourage you, consider your individual circumstance, consider the circumstance of those you live with and take appropriate precautions that are appropriate to yourself and your community.”

Watch the video above, via NBC.

William Vaillancourt

William Vaillancourt

William Vaillancourt is a writer and editor from New Hampshire whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Progressive, Slate and Areo Magazine, among other places. He holds a BA in Political Science and History from Boston University.