Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said he was left "pretty puzzled" and "rather disheartened" by the packed crowd at President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Michigan.
Collins made his remarks on Thursday during a CNN Town Hall. A video excerpt of his comments was posted on a Twitter account for Anderson Cooper, who hosted the event.
A crowd of several thousand, packed shoulder-to-shoulder, had turned out for the Trump rally at an airport hangar in Freeland, Michigan. Most of those in the crowd did not wear masks.
Collins was asked what he thinks when he sees images of an event like this.
"It just deeply puzzles me," Collins said. "How did we get here? Imagine you were an alien who landed on planet Earth, and you saw that our planet was afflicted by an infectious disease and that masks were an effective way to prevent the spread.
"And yet, when you went around, you saw some people not wearing them and some people wearing them. And you tried to figure out why, and it turned out it was their political party. And you would scratch your head and think, 'This is just not a planet that has much promise for the future, if something that is so straightforward can somehow get twisted into decision-making that really makes no sense.'
"As a scientist, I'm pretty puzzled and rather disheartened."
Politico noted that Collins is the supervisor of Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
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