Donald Trump changes position and says he is 'all for masks' as US coronavirus cases see record rise

The president has long resisted calls to wear a protective mask. Credit: AP

President Donald Trump appears to have shifted his stance on wearing a face covering in public amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the US.

The country recorded 52,000 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest day-on-day increase yet, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The US now has more than 2.6 million confirmed cases - around one-quarter of all those recorded worldwide.

However, Mr Trump has continued to characterise the pandemic as a nuisance which he hopes will just go away.

"I think we are going to be very good with the coronavirus," the US president said.

"I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope."

Donald Trump holds a face mask in his hand during a tour of a factory converted to making personal protection. Credit: AP

In an apparent change in opinion on protective face coverings, Mr Trump told Fox Business he thinks wearing a mask makes him look like the fictional Lone Ranger.

Mr Trump said: "I’m all for masks.

"I think masks are good.

"People have seen me wearing one.

"If I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely."

The president has long resisted being photographed in a mask.

He made the comments a day after Republican lawmakers suggested that he wear a mask in public to set a good example for Americans.

In early April, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures were difficult to maintain.

Donald Trump has rarely appeared in public wearing a mask. Credit: AP

Mr Trump immediately undercut the CDC guidance by flatly stating that he would not follow it.

The 74-year-old suggested it would be unseemly for the president to wear a mask as he meets with heads of state.

On Wednesday, he sounded a different tone, saying: "I had a mask on.

"I sort of liked the way I looked. OK.

"I thought it was OK.

"It was a dark black mask, and I thought it looked OK.

"It looked like the Lone Ranger,” he added, referring to the law-and-order character from the American old west who wore a black eye mask.

"I have no problem with that, and if people feel good about it, they should do it."

The US president said wearing a mask made him look like the fictional character, the Lone Ranger. Credit: AP

In recent days, many Republicans and members of the White House coronavirus task force have been more outspoken in advocating for Americans to wear face masks in public settings as infections have surged across the south and west.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, said last week that he would pursue a federal mask mandate, if elected.

In Wednesday's interview, Mr Trump suggested a federal mandate was unnecessary and continued to frame mask wearing as a matter of choice.

On the latest spike in figures, leading US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci warned that country risks a greater outbreak of coronavirus after it failed to lockdown as effectively as countries like the UK.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci. Credit: AP

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What we have seen over the last several days is a spike in cases that are well beyond the worst spikes that we have seen.

"We have got to get that under control, or we risk an even greater outbreak in the United States."

Asked why the increase was happening, he said: "When you look at the fact that we never got things down to base line where so many countries in Europe and the UK and other countries did, they closed down to the tune of about 97% lockdown.

"In the United States, even in the most strict lockdown, only about 50% of the country was locked down.

"That allowed the perpetuation of the outbreak that we never did get under very good control."