Republican mask manufacturer says he won't vote for Trump because president 'politicised' coronavirus response

Mr Bowen says he will support a Republican candidate if they believe in science

Coronavirus in numbers

A Republican executive of a company that manufactures medical masks said he plans to vote Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 US election because Donald Trump "politicised" the coronavirus response.  

Mike Bowen, the executive of the Texas-based Prestige Ameritech, told HuffPost that Mr Trump's leadership during the pandemic has "greatly increased death and suffering in America."  

Prestige Ameritech is the largest producer of N95 masks and respirators in the US.  

"President Trump downplayed the virus, missed opportunities, and wasted precious time," Mr Bowen said in a statement. "He has politicsed the wearing of masks ... the man has politicised a life-saving medical device nd has teased people for wearing it!"

Mr Bowen said he would return to support the Republican Party when it is led by someone who respects science.  

"Mr Trump is a self-proclaimed 'genius' who prefers his own magical thinking to the advice of experts and scientists," Mr Bowen wrote. "The next time that there is a scientifically minded Republican presidential candidate, I will vote for her or him. This time, however, there is only one scientifically minded person in the race. That person is Joe Biden."  

Mr Bowen testified before Congress in May that the US's dependence on foreign-made masks was a national security risk. He describes himself as a "lifelong Republican."

The mask manufacturer discussed his views on masks as a national security issue in "Totally Under Control," a recent documentary that examines Mr Trump's leadership during the pandemic.  

"Around 2005, all of the major mask makers left the country," he said. "It put the US mask supply in the hands of foreign control and could be subject to diversion during the pandemic. And that's what I've been warning about for years."  

Dr Rick Bright, the former director of the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testified that Mr Bowen had warned federal officials as early as January that the US was likely to face a mask shortage if the pandemic took hold here.  

"I'll never forget the emails I received from Mike Bowen indicating that our mask supply, our N95 respirator supply, was completely decimated," Dr Bright said. "And he said, 'we're in deep s***. The world is. And we need to act.' ... We were already behind the ball."

Mr Bowen said that he was a supporter of Mr Trump in 2016 but found the administration unresponsive to his expertise.  

"I voted for Donald Trump. I thought, you know, if I contact enough people in the administration, somebody - one of these people - is going to look at this and say 'Hey, this is a problem. Maybe we ought to call this guy.' And no, I couldn't get any - I didn't get any response there."  

The coronavirus has continued to worsen in the US. More than 221,000 people have died and more than 8.2m cases have been reported.  

Cases are skyrocketing in numerous states as the cold and flu season sets in and people in colder climates begin spending more time indoors.

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