Donald Trump has said he will not consider a national mandate requiring people to wear masks to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Asked in an interview on Fox News to be broadcast on Sunday if he would consider the move, the US president said: “No, I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don’t believe in that.”
It comes nearly a week after Mr Trump was seen wearing a mask at a military hospital in Washington after previously appearing reluctant to endorse their use.
Public health experts pleaded with people to cover their mouths and noses as Americans remained divided over mask mandates on Friday.
States and localities have been choosing conflicting strategies in the face of surging coronavirus cases.
Top infectious disease doctor Anthony Fauci said he “would urge the leaders – the local political leaders in states and cities and towns – to be as forceful as possible in getting your citizenry to wear masks”.
Governor Brian Kemp in the state of Georgia sued Atlanta’s mayor to prevent her from mandating masks.