Backlash after Trump removes mask at White House

U.S. President Donald Trump faced fresh backlash on Tuesday for removing his mask when he returned to the White House and urging Americans not to fear COVID-19, a disease that has killed more than 209,000 people in the country and put him in hospital

"Don't let it dominate you. Don't be afraid of it."

That message prompted pushback from medical experts and elected officials fighting to contain a pandemic that shows little sign of abating.

"No. We need to have a healthy fear of a pandemic that's killed 1,200 Kentuckians, 200,000-plus Americans. That's more than we lost in multiple wars."

The Democratic governor of Kentucky, whose state set a new record for coronavirus cases over the weekend appeared stunned by Trump's words.

"I don't know if it was an attempt to sound macho or what the impetus behind it was, but the president is surrounded by doctors and no one else is."

[TRUMP:] "I'm better, and maybe I'm immune - I don't know."

Trump depicted himself as a man who vanquished the disease and emerged stronger, quoting praise for himself in a pair of tweets:

"If the President bounces back onto the campaign trail, he will be an invincible hero, who not only survived every dirty trick the Democrats threw at him, but the Chinese virus as well."

Trump has repeatedly flouted social-distancing guidelines meant to curb the virus' spread and ignored his own medical advisers.

He also mocked Biden at last Tuesday's presidential debate for wearing a mask at events.

"I don't wear a mask like him. Every time you see him he's got a mask."

Biden on Monday wished the president a speedy recovery, and urged him to heed the advice of health experts.

"Now that he's busy tweeting campaign messages, I would ask him to do this: listen to the scientists, support masks."

Biden tweeted side-by-side images of himself masked and Trump mask-less with a the caption, "Masks Matter. They save lives."