Donald Trump, who was never seen with a face mask in public, has donned one for the first time during a visit to a military medical facility on Saturday.
The move comes after the cases of coronavirus continue to reach at an alarming rate in the United Sated.
The US president visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that has marked his first public appearance with a face covering since the pandemic began.
Previously, trump had refused to wear a mask in public and never ask other Americans to do so, saying it was a personal choice.
“I think when you are in a hospital, especially in that particular setting when you are talking to a lot of soldiers, people that in some cases just got off the operating table, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask,” Trump said while talking to reporters at the White House just before his visit to Walter Reed.
At the medical centre, Trump walked by media gathered for a carefully staged photo opportunity wearing a navy blue mask emblazoned with a presidential seal embossed in gold. He said only “thank you” as he passed.
Top public health officials have urged the use of masks to tackle the spread of the disease, which by Friday had claimed nearly 134,000 citizens’ lives.
Critics say Trump’s refusal to wear a face mask showed a lack of leadership. Even as other officials in his administration called for the use of masks and social distancing.
On Trump’s directives, many states in the country relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, led to the number of cases soar by more than 69,000 on Friday, a third straight daily record.
As of Friday, the number of confirmed U.S. infections topped 3 million, according to a Reuters tally.