Vice President Pence on Tuesday visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where he stuck out for his decision not to wear a face covering, flouting the medical facility’s policy in the process.
Pence visited the clinic in Rochester to learn about how physicians there are supporting research and treatment surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Footage of Pence standing alongside clinic staff and a patient donating blood quickly made the rounds on social media as the vice president was the lone individual in the frame not sporting a mask.
VP Pence at Mayo Clinic Minnesota … pic.twitter.com/wahnuFLc82
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) April 28, 2020
The vice president later presided over a roundtable discussion with Mayo Clinic officials to discuss their efforts to fight the coronavirus. Pence still did not wear a mask, even as every Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn and every other individual at the table did.
The Mayo Clinic issued guidance on April 13 requiring all patients and visitors to wear a face covering or mask in accordance with updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). The clinic said it would provide masks for those who did not bring their own.
The vice president’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday inquiring about his lack of a face covering. The Mayo Clinic tweeted, then deleted, a message that it informed Pence of its masking policy prior to his arrival in Rochester.
The clinic did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the deleted tweet.
Pence and other top administration officials have seldom been seen wearing face coverings in public settings. President TrumpDonald John TrumpWest Virginia announces six-week reopening process Americans receive signed Trump letters in the mail explaining coronavirus stimulus checks Coronavirus warnings appeared repeatedly in classified presidential briefings in January, February: report MORE announced on April 3 the new CDC guidance encouraging the use of masks to try and cut down on the spread of the coronavirus, particularly from those who may be asymptomatic.
But Trump immediately undercut the advice by insisting he would not wear one himself.
“I don’t know, somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk … I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know,” he said. “Somehow, I don’t see it for myself. I just don’t. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but this will pass and hopefully it’ll pass very quickly.”
The decision has been even more noticeable as Pence resumes traveling. The vice president, who is leading the federal response to the pandemic, was greeted in Colorado earlier this month by a mask-wearing Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisColorado and Nevada join western states cooperating on reopening Governors discuss, defend plans to reopen state economies amid coronavirus pandemic Sunday shows – Talk shifts to reopening economy hit hard by coronavirus pandemic MORE (D) but did not have one on himself.
Upon landing in Rochester on Tuesday, a masked Gov. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzDon’t let the pandemic change into a crisis of self-governance Minnesota closes schools for the rest of the academic year Michigan governor: May be appropriate to open businesses that ‘pose very little risk’ MORE (D) met a bare-faced Pence on the tarmac.
Updated at 3:01 p.m.