Honeywell silent on Donald Trump’s claim he was told he didn’t need to wear mask

WASHINGTON – Honeywell officials declined to comment Thursday on President Donald Trump's assertion that he was exempted from wearing a mask during a tour of an Arizona face mask facility this week, saying only that people were around him did not have to wear them.

Honeywell also did not address Trump's claim that he actually wore one briefly.

Trump drew fire Tuesday for not wearing a mask during a tour of the Arizona facility. The president claimed that he had worn a mask "back stage" before he walked into view of the cameras. He also said Honeywell's CEO told him he did not have to wear a mask.

Reached by USA TODAY on Thursday, a Honeywell spokesman said it would not comment on Trump's actions or statements. A company statement said only that some people who were near the president were exempted while he met with workers at the facility because they had been tested for the virus.

"Following White House recommended protocol, a small number of individuals directly interfacing with the President on Tuesday were tested for COVID-19 immediately prior to the event, received negative test results, and were permitted to not wear masks during portions of the visit based on that medical screening," Honeywell said in a statement.

Honeywell, which did not comment beyond its statement, added that "all others present were wearing masks and social distancing in accordance with Honeywell’s site policy."

More:White House considers future of task force and downplays predicted surge

More:What we learned about Honeywell N95 mask production from Trump's visit

Trump took criticism for not wearing a mask while touring the plant, just as Vice President Mike Pence did when he declined to wear a mask during a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Pence later said that he should have worn a mask, which is recommended – but not required – by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Speaking with reporters Wednesday at the White House, Trump said "I had a mask on for a period of time" before the event. He also said he was told by a unnamed company official that he didn't need to wear a mask.

"I can't help it if you didn't see me," Trump said. "I mean, I had a mask on, but I didn't need it. And I asked specifically the head of Honeywell, 'Should I wear a mask?' And he said, 'Well, you don't need one in this territory.'"

"And I asked specifically the head of Honeywell: 'Should I wear a mask?' And he said, 'Well, you don't need one in this territory,'" Trump said.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Honeywell's CEO told the president that "there was no need" to wear a mask so Trump "followed that."

President Donald Trump tours a Honeywell plant that produces N95 masks.

The president did wear goggles during the tour.

Critics said Trump should have set an example by wearing a mask anyway.

"Masking the truth, but never his mouth," tweeted U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.

Contributing: John Fritze


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