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Michigan's attorney general urged President Trump to wear a face mask when he visits the state Thursday to tour a Ford Motor Co. plant and to adhere to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus executive order, telling the commander in chief that he has a "legal responsibility" to follow the law.
Dana Nessel, a Democrat, penned an open letter to Trump Wednesday asking him to follow the face-covering policy of Ford Motor Co. and of the state of Michigan. Trump has not been pictured wearing a face mask in public and said he's taking hydroxychloroquine, an unproven COVID-19 drug, as a preventative measure to ward off the contagious virus.
“While my Department will not act to prevent you from touring Ford’s plant, I ask that while you are on tour you respect the great efforts of the men and women at Ford – and across this state – by wearing a facial covering," Nessel wrote. "It is not just the policy of Ford, by virtue of the Governor’s Executive Orders. It is currently the law of this State."
Meanwhile, Whitmer hit back at Trump for threatening to withhold federal funds to Michigan amid the pandemic and mass flooding in central Michigan after two dams broke this week.
"To have this kind of distraction is just ridiculous to be honest... threatening to take money away from a state that is hurting as bad as we are right now is just scary, and I think something that is unacceptable," Whitmer told CBS News' This Morning.
Trump made the threat on Twitter stating that Michigan is in trouble for sending out absentee ballots to voters, which he deems ripe for voter fraud. Like other states, Michigan sent out absentee applications, not ballots. Trump corrected his tweet — but the threat to withhold federal dollars to Michigan stood. Michigan's secretary of state said Trump is still wrong.
But the issue of whether Trump will wear a mask has been front and center before Trump visits the critical swing state.
Michigan has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus, with more than 50,000 confirmed cases and 5,000 deaths.
Everyone, including Trump, has an obligation to follow the law, the attorney general said.
"We must all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19," Nessel wrote. "Anyone who has potentially been recently exposed, including the President of the United States, has not only a legal responsibility, but also a social and moral responsibility, to take reasonable precautions to prevent further spread of the virus.”
Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich, also urged Trump to wear a mask as he visits her district.
"The spread is real," Dingell said Thursday. "No one is above these steps, and it is my respectful wish that Trump and his entire team take these protocols seriously. Their actions do have consequences, and wearing the masks might save a life."
On Thursday afternoon, Trump is expected to tour a Ford Motor Co. plant in Ypsilanti Township that had to stop making automobiles during the pandemic but reconfigured in April to make ventilators. Ford said it will deliver 50,000 ventilators by mid-July to help with the coronavirus response.
The plant has strict protocols in place for its employees. Workers must take a questionnaire daily and certify that they don't have symptoms before entering the workplace. Upon arrival, employees have a no-touch temperature scan. All employees wear a face mask at work. Safety glasses with side shields or face shields are also required for positions that don't allow for social distancing.
While other White House staff have been wearing masks in the wake of West Wing staffers getting infected, Trump has resisted using one in public.
Asked Tuesday if he would wear a mask at the Ford plant, Trump said: “I don’t know.”
He added: "It depends on [the] situation. So we'll see. Where it's appropriate, I would do it. Certainly."