President Donald Trump traveled to Maine Friday to tour a facility that makes medical swabs used for coronavirus testing, but the swabs manufactured in the background during his visit will ultimately be thrown in the trash, the company said.
Puritan Medical Products said it will have to discard the swabs, a company spokeswoman told USA TODAY in response to questions about the visit.
It is not clear why the swabs will be scrapped, or how many. The company described its manufacturing plans for Friday as “limited” – but the disruption comes as public health officials in Maine and other states have complained that a shortage of swabs has hampered their ability to massively scale up coronavirus testing.
Workers in white lab coats, hair nets and plastic booties worked at machines making swabs while the president walked through the room. Trump, who did not wear a mask for the visit, stopped at one point to talk with some of the workers.
“Made in the USA. I’ve been saying it for a long time,” Trump said.
Trump has repeatedly traveled during the pandemic to call attention to companies who are responding, sometimes with government help. In those cases, the president has used the factory floors as backdrops to convey a message of American ingenuity and production that he said the country has not witnessed since World War II.
“The running of the factory machines is very limited today and will only occur when the president is touring the facility floor,” Virginia Templet, the company’s marketing manager told USA TODAY in response to questions about the event. “Swabs produced during that time will be discarded.”
The White House did not respond to questions about the swabs. Nearly a third of Maine nursing homes reported last month they had no nasal swabs to collect specimens, the Portland Press Herald reported.