WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump wore a mask during a visit to a military hospital Saturday, the first time the president has been seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by the novel coronavirus.
Trump flew by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Washington to meet wounded service members and health care providers caring for COVID-19 patients. As he left the White House, he told reporters: “When you're in a hospital, especially ... I think it's expected to wear a mask.”
Trump was wearing a mask in Walter Reed's hallway as he began his visit. He was not wearing one when he stepped off the helicopter at the facility.
Trump has declined to wear a mask at news conferences, coronavirus task force updates, rallies and other public events. People close to him have told The Associated Press that the president feared a mask would make him look weak and was concerned that it shifted focus to the public health crisis rather than the economic recovery. They spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private matters.
Dozens of Marines infected
Dozens of U.S. Marines at two bases on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa have been infected with the coronavirus in what is feared to be a massive outbreak, Okinawa's governor said Saturday, demanding an adequate explanation from the U.S. military.
Gov. Denny Tamaki said he could say only that a “few dozen” cases had been found recently because the U.S. military asked that the exact figure not be released. The outbreaks occurred at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is at the center of a relocation dispute, and Camp Hansen, Tamaki said.
Local media, citing unnamed sources, said about 60 people had been infected.
10,000 new cases in 1 day in Texas
The new coronavirus continues to cut a swath through Texas, with state officials reporting a record 10,351 new confirmed cases for the day.
The increase reported Saturday brought the state's total cases of COVID-19 to just over a quarter-million since the start of tracking in early March.
A record 10,083 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, while 99 new fatalities were reported Saturday. The total is second only to the record 105 reported Thursday and brought the state's overall death toll to 3,112.
Harris County, which includes the bulk of Houston and many of its suburbs, had the most active cases, with almost 27,000.
South Africa, India see upswing
South Africa's confirmed coronavirus cases have doubled in just two weeks to a quarter-million, and India on Saturday saw its biggest daily spike as its infections passed 800,000. The surging cases are raising sharp concerns about unequal treatment in the pandemic, as the wealthy hoard medical equipment and use private hospitals and the poor crowd into overwhelmed public facilities.
Globally, more than 12.5 million people have been infected by the virus and over 560,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the pandemic's true toll is much higher due to testing shortages, poor data collection in some nations and other issues.
South Africa now has more than 250,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, including more than 3,800 deaths. To complicate matters, the country's troubled power utility has announced new electricity cuts in the dead of winter as a cold front brings freezing weather. Many of the country's urban poor live in shacks of scrap metal and wood.