Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump Says He Won’t Wear a Mask, Despite C.D.C.’s Recommendation


C.D.C. says all Americans should wear masks. Trump says he won’t.

President Trump said on Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was urging all Americans to wear a mask when they leave their homes, but he undercut the message by repeatedly calling the recommendation voluntary and saying he would not wear one himself.

“With the masks, it is going to be a voluntary thing,” the president said at the beginning of the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House. “You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I am choosing not to do it. It may be good. It is only a recommendation, voluntary.”

“Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I don’t know,” he added, though he stopped receiving foreign dignitaries weeks ago. “Somehow, I just don’t see it for myself.”

Mr. Trump’s announcement, followed by his quick dismissal, was a remarkable public display of the intense debate that has played out inside the West Wing over the past several days as a divided administration argued about whether to request such a drastic change in Americans’ social behavior.

And it came at a particularly contentious briefing where the president insulted reporters, jousted with his own administration and returned to pugilistic form.

Attorney General William P. Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons on Friday to expand the group of federal inmates eligible for early release and to prioritize those at three facilities where known coronavirus cases have grown precipitously, as the virus threatens to overwhelm prison medical facilities and nearby hospitals.

Mr. Barr wrote in a memo to Michael Carvajal, the director of the Bureau of Prisons, that he was intensifying the push to release prisoners to home confinement because “emergency conditions” created by the coronavirus have affected the ability of the bureau to function.

He directed the bureau to prioritize the release of prisoners from federal correctional institutions in Louisiana, Connecticut and Ohio, which comprise the bulk of the system’s 91 inmates and 50 staff members who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

At least five inmates have died at the federal prison in Oakdale, La., and two have died at the federal prison near Elkton, Ohio. Officials with unions that represent prison workers have said that the reported numbers are likely undercounting the number of infected staff, given the paucity of testing.

Trump plans to nominate an inspector general to oversee the $500 billion bailout fund.

President Trump said on Friday night that he planned to nominate a member of the White House counsel’s office to be the special inspector general to oversee the Treasury Department’s $500 billion bailout fund.

Mr. Trump’s selection, Brian D. Miller, is a former federal prosecutor who spent nine years as the inspector general of the General Services Administration. Mr. Miller was nominated for that post in 2004 by President George W. Bush.

The special inspector general is one of several oversight mechanisms created as part of the $2 trillion economic relief package that Congress passed last week. The position will be closely scrutinized, as lawmakers from both parties have been calling for Mr. Trump to fill the role expeditiously to ensure that stimulus money is doled out with transparency and that fraud and favoritism are avoided.

The president raised alarms last week when, after signing the legislation, he released a statement that suggested he had the power to decide what information the new inspector general could share with Congress.

The Chinese government held a nationwide day of mourning on Saturday, the day of the annual Tomb Sweeping Festival, a traditional time for honoring ancestors. Flags flew at half-staff, and alarms and horns sounded for three minutes starting at 10 a.m. Xi Jinping and other leaders of the ruling Communist Party attended a ceremony in Beijing.

It will probably not be enough to soothe many families in the city of Wuhan, who have chafed against the state’s efforts to assert control over the grieving process.

A leading researcher who fought a different virus; a prodigious songwriter still in his prime; the first black president of the Marseille soccer club; a jazz patriarch.

Reporting was contributed by Katie Benner, Alan Rappeport, Michael D. Shear, Sheila Kaplan, Sarah Mervosh, Jack Healy, Amy Qin, Cao Li, Yiwei Wang, Albee Zhang and Alexandra Stevenson.



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