The impeached, popular vote-losing U.S. president stomped around one of just two manufacturers of the nasal swabs required to test patients for the novel coronavirus on Friday, predictably refusing to wear a mask. Shortly after he left, all of the swabs produced during Donald Trump’s factory photo op were destroyed, according to a company spokesperson.
In the latest of his minutes-long tours of American factories for the cameras, this time at Puritan Medical Products in Guilford, Maine, the likely single-term president, clad in one of his signature ill-fitting suits, lumbered around the normally sterile facility, accosting “(w)orkers in white lab coats, hair nets and plastic booties” with bellows of “Made in the USA!”
Trump added that he’d been saying “Made in the USA” for “a long time,” USA TODAY reported Saturday. The failed steak vendor and necktie seller has previously come under fire for manufacturing much of his branded merchandise overseas; in 2016 he first defended that choice by falsely claiming that “They don’t even make this stuff here.”
Virginia Templet, marketing manager for Puritan, tells USA TODAY that production on the much-needed testing swabs screeched to a halt to accommodate Trump, who has been widely condemned for his response to the pandemic that has gripped the nation and the world for most of the year. “The running of the factory machines is very limited today and will only occur when the president is touring the facility floor,” Templet told USA TODAY, adding that “swabs produced during that time will be discarded.”
Trump’s visit had been discouraged by Maine Gov. Janet Mills, who declined to meet with the former reality TV star. Mills, a Democrat, was concerned that the extremely unpopular chief executive would spark further unrest as Mainers continue to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. The entire Pine Tree State congressional delegation, including perpetually useless and soon to be ousted Republican Sen. Susan Collins, also declined to meet with Trump.
In April, Puritan Medical Products was awarded over $75 million from the federal government to produce the much-needed testing swabs.