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Trump Destroys Factory’s Entire Daily Batch of Coronavirus Swabs By Refusing to Wear a Mask

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, President Donald Trump visited a factory in Guilford, Maine that is manufacturing sterile cotton swabs to be used in coronavirus testing, but the entire day’s production was tossed out because Trump was on the factory floor without a mask.

USA Today reported about the president’s tour of the Puritan Medical Products site, and noted that the factory had planned a “limited” production run for Trump’s visit.

Coronavirus tests are performed using a long 6-inch cotton swab that is inserted into the nose and to the nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat that’s connected behind the nose. For obvious reasons, the swabs used for these tests need to be sterile, to avoid cross-contamination or faulty test results.

Puritan’s workers were described in the USA Today article and shown in photographs wearing white lab coats, hairnets, plastic booties over their shoes — and masks — to maintain that necessary sterile environment.

Trump, on the other hand, was photographed without a mask as he walked around the factory floor and chatted with workers, repeatedly closer than the 6 feet recommendations for social distancing.

“Made in the USA. I’ve been saying it for a long time,” Trump said during the tour, touting American manufacturing.

The CDC has recommended, but not mandated, people wear masks when around other people, especially indoors, to minimize transmission of the coronavirus. Trump has notably refused to wear a mask and has repeatedly said he does not want to wear one — all the while staff at the White House have been required to wear them, as well as getting daily coronavirus tests.

When asked on Friday about discarding the swabs, Virginia Templet, Puritan’s marketing manager, replied, “The running of the factory machines is very limited today and will only occur when the president is touring the facility floor. Swabs produced during that time will be discarded.”

Presidential photo ops are a part of the job description, and it’s to be expected that certain aspects of a photo op might be staged to some degree to be more efficient or effective with the desired message.

But when a significant challenge for ramping up the number of available coronavirus tests across the country was the limited supplies of necessary elements like these sterile cotton swabs, it seems counterproductive for a presidential photo op to destroy an entire day’s production — not to mention the visit limiting production in the first place.

The USA Today article noted that Puritan is one of only two factories in the entire U.S. that currently manufacture these swabs, and they remain scarce in many areas. Puritan has been unable to keep up with the demand just in their own state: nearly one-third of Maine’s nursing homes had no swabs last month, and about sixty percent said they had seven or fewer on hand.

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