July 21 (Reuters) - In a stark contrast with his past comments over the last six months, U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged Americans to wear masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus and acknowledged the outbreak would probably get worse before it gets better.
Trump has long been criticized for playing down the impact of the coronavirus and for not promoting the use of masks. Here is a timeline of what he has said before:
- Jan. 22 to CNBC: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” - Jan. 24 tweet: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!” - Feb. 23 to reporters: “We’re very much involved. We’re very — very cognizant of everything going on. We have it very much under control in this country.”
- Feb. 27 at the White House: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” - March 10 after meeting Republican senators: “This was unexpected. … And it hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”
- March 13 to reporters: “Yeah, no, I don’t take responsibility at all, because we were given a - a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time.”
- March 15 at a White House briefing: “This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.”
- March 18 tweet: “I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the ‘borders’ from China - against the wishes of almost all.”
- April 3 at a White House briefing: “With the masks, it’s going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it, you don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it and that’s OK ... As I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens ... I don’t see it for myself, I just don’t.”
- May 21 on a Ford plant visit: “I wore one (a mask) in the back area. I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump said.
- July 12 before publicly donning a mask for the first time: “When you are in a hospital, especially in that particular setting when you are talking to a lot of soldiers, people that in some cases just got off the operating table, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask.”
- Tuesday at a White House briefing: “We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they’ll have an effect and we need everything we can get... I will use it, gladly ... Anything that potentially can help ... is a good thing.”
Editing by Kieran Murray and Howard Goller