US President Donald Trump has staunchly refused to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic -- will he finally comply later this week when he visits a Ford factory in key electoral state Michigan that requires them?
A spokeswoman for the automaker told AFP Tuesday that it's up to the White House to decide whether Trump will wear a face mask during his visit.
"Our policy is that everyone wears PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19," the spokeswoman said.
"We shared all of Ford's safety protocols... with the White House ahead of time and in preparation for this trip," she added.
Long after government doctors recommended wearing masks as a globally accepted way of slowing the viral spread, Trump and some of his staff have gone without.
He has never been photographed while wearing one and even pointedly declined to be seen in a mask while touring a mask-making factory in Arizona.
According to the Ford spokeswoman, it is up to the White House and Trump to decide if the president will wear a mask during his visit, scheduled for Thursday, at the factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan -- a state crucial to his chances of winning reelection in November.
The Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville manufacturing plant in Ypsilanti was repurposed in April to build ventilators and other medical equipment during the pandemic, as part of a partnership between Ford and General Electric,
As per Ford's sanitary protocols, masks are distributed at the factory entrance, and all visitors must wear them until they leave the premises.
Trump will tour the factory and give a speech on collaboration between Ford and General Electric. The choice of companies is doubly significant because they symbolize the industrial engine that Trump is pushing to get restarted after the coronavirus economic shutdown.
The president caused controversy during two recent factory visits where he was the only person not wearing a mask.
In May, he went mask-less among factory workers at a Honeywell plant in Arizona that makes medical N95 masks. He similarly did not sport a face covering while visiting a medical equipment distribution factory in Pennsylvania.
© 2020 AFP