Very publicly contradicting the nation’s top health official, President Donald Trump said the head of the Centers for Disease Control had wrongly stated how long it will take to get a vaccine to the general public for the Coronavirus, and disputed a call for Americans to wear masks as a highly effective way to slow the spread of the virus.
“He sort of maybe misunderstood a question,” the President said of Dr. Robert Redfield, who had testified hours earlier before a U.S. Senate committee.
It was very clear that Redfield’s suggestion that most Americans would not see a virus vaccine until next year was not well received by Mr. Trump.
“I think he made a mistake,” the President said. “I believe he was confused.”
The President was also not pleased with another part of Redfield’s testimony, where Redfield strongly urged Americans to wear masks, saying it could even be more powerful than a vaccine.
“When I called up Robert today, I said, ‘What’s with the mask?’” the President recounted to reporters.
At a White House news conference, the President repeatedly made clear he does not believe masks are helpful to stop the virus.
“The mask is a mixed bag,” Mr. Trump said, again indicating that Redfield must have misunderstood the question asked of him by Senators.
“Masks have problems,” the President added, while Redfield had told Senators that masks “are our best defense.”
Redfield’s testimony was clear on masks.
“We have clear scientific evidence that they work,” the CDC chief testified.
Going on Twitter soon after the President’s statements about him, Redfield stood by his testimony that masks are effective.
“The best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing, and being careful about crowds,” Redfield tweeted.
Democrats immediately rushed to Redfield’s defense.
“Dr. Redfield meant exactly what he said earlier today when he testified to the enormous importance of vaccines AND wearing facemasks,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).