Before visiting the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence was informed that all patients, staff members, and visitors are required to wear masks or other face coverings. He chose to ignore the rule. Video from the facility shows that Pence—who leads the administration's coronavirus task force—was the only one in a group of 10 people, including a recovered COVID-19 patient, not wearing a mask, the Guardian reports. Pence was also the only person not wearing a mask during a roundtable discussion of the institution's coronavirus testing and research programs that included Mayo officials, FDA chief Stephen Hahn, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, reports the AP.
Hospital officials say Pence and his team were told about the policy and offered masks. "We made the vice president and his staff aware of our policy regarding masking," a spokesperson tells Politico. A tweet from the clinic saying Pence had been informed of the policy was later removed, without explanation. Pence said that he is regularly tested for the coronvirus and since he is not infected, he thought it would be a good opportunity to "speak to these researchers, these incredible healthcare personnel, and look them in the eye and say 'thank you.'" Critics noted that he could have become infected between tests—and that wearing a mask would not have stopped him speaking to workers or looking them in the eye. (Read more Mike Pence stories.)