Karen Pence says Mike Pence didn't know about the Mayo Clinic's requirement that visitors wear masks, despite the clinic saying it informed him

Nicholas Pfosi/ReutersVice President Mike Pence at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, on Tuesday.
  • Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, said her husband didn’t know about the Mayo Clinic’s requirement that visitors wear face masks when he toured its Minnesota headquarters on Tuesday.
  • His decision not to wear a mask in a room full of masked researchers and clinic employees sparked backlash and condemnation from the employees’ union.
  • “It was actually after he left Mayo Clinic that he found out that they had a policy of asking everyone to wear a mask,” Karen Pence told the “Fox & Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt on Thursday morning.
  • This contradicted the Mayo Clinic’s claim that it informed the vice president’s office that he would have to wear a mask during his visit.
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Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, said her husband didn’t know about the Mayo Clinic’s requirement that visitors wear face masks when he toured its Minnesota headquarters on Tuesday and sparked an uproar by not donning a mask.

“It was actually after he left Mayo Clinic that he found out that they had a policy of asking everyone to wear a mask,” Karen Pence told the “Fox & Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt on Thursday morning. “Someone who’s worked on this whole task force for over two months is not someone who would have done anything to offend anyone or hurt anyone or scare anyone.”

This contradicted the Mayo Clinic’s claim – which it tweeted and then deleted on Tuesday – that it “informed” the vice president about its mask requirement before his visit. In a later statement, the clinic said it told Pence’s office that he would be required to wear a mask.

And reporters who travelled with him to Minnesota have said they were also told they would have to wear masks.

The vice president defended his decision not to wear a mask on Tuesday, arguing that he’s regularly tested negative for the virus.

“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,” he said, according to NBC. “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 healthcare personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you.”

Karen Pence reiterated that argument in her Thursday interview.

“As our medical experts have told us, wearing a mask prevents you from spreading the disease, and, knowing that he doesn’t have COVID-19, he didn’t wear one,” she said.

The vice president’s failure to adhere to the clinic’s safety guidelines sparked backlash on Tuesday. In photos from the visit, he was the only person not wearing a face mask in a room full of masked researchers and clinic employees.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, a union that represents thousands of clinic employees, called Pence’s move insulting.

“When Vice President Pence ignores the safety policy and refuses to wear a mask, he insults the hard work and sacrifice of all health care workers,” it said in a statement. “Worse, he puts them, their patients, and their families at risk.”

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