Donald Trump has mocked a reporter who declined to remove his mask before asking the President a question.
During the press conference exchange, Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason began to ask a question before the President, seeing him in a mask, cut him off and said: “Can you take it off because, I cannot hear you.”
“I will just speak louder,” Mason said.
“OK, because you want to be politically correct,” Mr Trump replied.
“No sir, I just want to wear the mask,” Mason responded.
RELATED: US COVID deaths top 100,000
It was the latest mixed message from the White House on whether or not people should wear masks. Most White House reporters and several White House staffers have been wearing masks in recent weeks.
At a White House press briefing earlier this week, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called out Democratic nominee Joe Biden for wearing a mask in public.
She said that it was “a bit peculiar” that Mr Biden did not wear a mask in his basement, when he was next to his wife, but that “he’s wearing one outdoors when he’s socially distanced. So I think that there was a discrepancy there”.
However, the Centres for Disease Control does not recommend wearing a mask at home, but does out in public.
When this was pointed out to Ms McEnany, she said: “The guidance says it’s recommended but not required. So it’s the personal choice of the individual, but it didn’t strike him as a very data-driven decision in that particular incidence.”
On CNN, Mr Biden was asked about jabs from the Trump administration for wearing a mask.
“He’s a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way,” Mr Biden said. “I mean, every leading doc in the world is saying we should wear a mask when you’re in a crowd, and especially when you know you’re going to be in a position where you’re going to inadvertently get closer than 12 feet (3.6m) to somebody.”
He added: “Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine. It reminds me of the guys that I grew up with playing ball. They’d walk around with a ball in their hand, but they didn’t like to hit very much.”
It comes as more than 100,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, according to figures from John Hopkins University.
The country has what is by far the highest death toll in the world, and the highest number of confirmed cases with more than 1.6 million infections.
The pandemic is on track to be the country’s deadliest public health disaster since the 1918 flu pandemic, in which about 675,000 Americans died.
While the numbers of new cases and deaths have begun trending downward, health experts have warned there could be a resurgence as lockdowns are lifted.
While the daily death toll in hard-hit New York has fallen to levels not seen since March, there are persistently high cases in a number of other cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles.
Many public health experts, including Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, say the death toll is probably far higher than official counts, which doesn’t include people who haven’t been tested and dying at home.
The terrible milestone comes amid debate over the timeliness of the nation’s response to the pandemic, with one Columbia University model showing that about 36,000 fewer people would have died if the United States had imposed social distancing measures earlier.
Mr Trump has defended his decision to play golf over the Memorial Day weekend amid the pandemic, during which he made no public mention of the rising death toll.