President Donald Trump "crossed a bridge" when he donned a mask in public for the first time over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday. Pelosi called the move an "admission" that masks help stop the spread of Covid-19 during an interview on CNN’s "State of the Union."
Trump’s trip to Walter Reed National Medical Center on Saturday marked the first time the Republican president wore a mask in public. The decision was a departure from Trump’s past refusal to wear a face covering. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending Americans wear masks in public to stop the spread of Covid-19 in April.
"He’s crossed a bridge. That’s an admission that if you’re going to see our soldiers, you have to wear a mask. If you’re going to be with our children, you have to wear a mask. If you want to stop the spread of the coronavirus, you have to wear a mask," Pelosi said on Sunday. "So hopefully by his example, he will change his attitude, which will be helpful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus."
During the interview, Pelosi called for more federal funding to curb the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including extending unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of July. The cost of the pandemic has surged past the first $8.3 billion coronavirus package the House passed in March, which Pelosi said at that time would address the scale of the pandemic.
Pelosi said on Sunday that she did not initially underestimate the scope of the pandemic, and instead pointed to Trump, who she said was in "denial" about the virus. Pelosi has faced criticism — particularly on the right — for her Feb. 24 visit to Chinatown in San Francisco, where she encouraged people not to be afraid to come there because of Covid-19.
"What we did was at that exact time was writing the first Covid bill, which we brought to the floor and passed on March 4th. It was about testing, testing, testing. Because if you don’t test, you don’t have a handle on what the problem is," Pelosi said.
"We were writing the bill to find out what the threat was to us, while the president was saying delay, denial, calling it a hoax and causing deaths."