During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration has been criticized as leading a confusing or insufficient response to the outbreak. On Tuesday, April 28, that controversy continued, when Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to the Mayo Clinic medical facility in Minnesota, where he visited recovering coronavirus patients — without wearing a face mask, apparently in violation of the clinic's policy. Understandably, these tweets about Mike Pence skipping a face mask at the Mayo Clinic are all about asking what the vice president was thinking.
Pence visited the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday along with federal Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, per CNBC. Pence participated in a discussion at the facility with top doctors, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, and Minnesota Rep. Jim Hagedorn. Pence and Hahn also toured the facility — which is heavily engaged in coronavirus research efforts — and engaged in conversation with staff and patients. However, one thing was notably missing: namely, the vice president chose not to wear a face mask, which health officials have recommended as a means to stop or slow transmission of the coronavirus. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for additional comment on Pence's decision to not wear a mask.
Since April 13, the clinic has had a policy requiring all patients and visitors to wear face masks to protect themselves and others. Mayo Clinic personnel had face masks available for all of the visitors, CNN reported, but Pence opted not to wear one. Speaking to reporters on the ground after his visit, Pence defended his decision not to wear a mask.
"As vice president of the United States, I'm tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus," Pence said, per NPR. "And since I don't have the coronavirus, I thought it'd be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say 'thank you.'"
In a tweet that has since been deleted, the Mayo Clinic indicated that its personnel had informed Pence's office of the facility's mandated mask policy for visitors ahead of the visit, which the clinic also confirmed in an email to Elite Daily. According to CNN, Pence was the only member of the Trump administration delegation to the Mayo Clinic who didn't wear a face mask during their visit.
Pence's lack of a mask swiftly drew backlash on social media. Some Twitter users couldn't understand why Pence would put health care workers at risk — especially because people can carry and transmit the virus without even knowing it.
Other Twitter users pointed out that wearing a face mask — which covers a wearer's nose and mouth, but not their eyes — would not have prevented Pence from looking anyone in the eye and expressing gratitude. The White House did not respond to Elite Daily's request for clarification on Pence's comment.
Pence isn't the only member of the Trump administration who has gotten attention for not wearing a mask, however. President Donald Trump has also declined to wear any type of face mask or covering during public appearances, noting that it wasn't technically mandatory for Americans to do so, despite health authorities' recommendations. He added that he couldn't envision himself wearing a mask while carrying out his presidential duties. "I don't think I'm going to be doing it," he said earlier this month, per CNN. "Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I just don't see it." Elite Daily has reached out to the White House for comment on why Trump has declined to wear a mask.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a guidance on April 13 recommending that everyone should wear a face mask in public settings where practicing social distancing is difficult. The guidance did not include any exemptions for the president or members of his administration. Multiple cities and states have also made it mandatory for residents to wear masks or cloth face coverings in public spaces.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.