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Not a 'good look': White House fight over masks signaled Covid-19 plans running awry

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CNN   10/1/2020

Not a 'good look': White House fight over masks signaled Covid-19 plans running awry

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The first masks arrived on the White House grounds in February by special order of the National Security Council, mobilizing early on to address the emerging threat of the coming coronavirus. Job One in their emergency response was to take personal precautions, preparing for the critical work at hand, multiple officials tell CNN.

But word that some NSC staffers were being told to wear masks quickly made its way back to the West Wing and it wasn't long before a sharp dictum came down.

"If you have the whole West Wing running around wearing masks, it wasn't a good look," one administration official recalled of the directive that came down from senior staff and lawyers.

The West Wing wanted to "portray confidence and make the public believe there was absolutely nothing to worry about," the official said, revealing the image-conscious reason for the opposition to masks for the first time.

The directive opened a schism in the White House complex that would ultimately hinder its ability to contain the spread of the new virus they were now calling Covid-19. Interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration officials show how that fissure appeared and spread even as confirmed cases in the US began to grow. ...