PA Factory Officials Postponed Trump’s Visit Over Concerns He Posed a Health Risk to Workers

Graphic via Tania Lili for COURIER

By Cassandra Stone

May 12, 2020

The visit to Braskem America outside of Philadelphia was supposed to take place last Friday.

President Trump was scheduled to pay a visit to the Braskem America factory outside of Philadelphia last Friday, but after some back-and-forth with the White House, factory officials pushed back on the president’s request. Citing health concerns, the factory asked to postpone after Trump and Vice President Pence have made several public appearances in recent weeks.

Braskem factory workers gained national attention after dozens of them chose to live inside the factory for 28 days to continue production without risk of contamination or disruption. A visit from Trump could potentially jeopardize the safety of the factory workers as well as the plant’s ability to produce material for masks and other medical gear. 

According to the Washington Post, the White House pushed to hold the event last Friday as scheduled. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, Trump has refused to wear a face mask in public. Pence also declined to wear a mask while delivering boxes of gloves and masks to a rehabilitation and nursing facility in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 7.

Accompanying the vice president during his visit was his press secretary, Katie Miller, who also did not wear a mask. On May 8, news broke that Miller had tested positive for the coronavirus. At least a dozen people who work directly with the president and vice president have contracted the virus recently.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends anyone who has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 should stay at home under self-quarantine for 14 days. They’re also instructing Americans to wear cloth face coverings in public, and while Trump has now ordered White House staff to follow those guidelines, he’s declining to follow them himself.

“I don’t think I’m going to be doing it… Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I just don’t see it,” Trump said in April after the CDC issued its new guidelines. 

Braskem officials were initially looking forward to the idea of hosting a president in their factory, the Post reports. But according to two people involved in the planning (who spoke under the condition of anonymity), they told the White House the visit was too risky for workers. It would also mean their efforts in self-quarantining inside the factory would be contradicted.

RELATED: Employees Who Lived at Plant for 28 Days to Help Build PPE Just Got to Go Home

Trump is still scheduled to visit Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley on Thursday. He will visit a medical equipment distributor to talk about coronavirus testing and the personal protective equipment needed to combat the virus. The Morning Call reports that a White House spokesperson confirmed the president will deliver his remarks from inside the factory as well as tour the distribution center.

On Monday, Trump criticized Democrats for moving too slowly in reopening the economy, tweeting that Pennsylvanians in particular “want their freedom now.”

Following the tweet, Gov. Wolf was questioned how he could move quickly but also keep Pennsylvanians safe. “I don’t know how you stay safe and move quickly,” Wolf said, adding that “the irresponsible thing to do … is to just willy-nilly go off and pretend that we can wave a magic wand and go back into business and suspend the reality to this virus that’s surrounding us.”


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