- Vice President Mike Pence says he “should have worn a mask” while visiting the Mayo Clinic last week.
- He was the only person in his party who declined to cover his face at the Minnesota medical centre, arguing that he was tested for COVID-19 regularly and therefore was confident he was not infected.
- The Mayo Clinic requires visitors to wear a mask, but Pence’s wife, Karen, said the vice president was not aware of this until the visit had ended. Reporting has cast doubt on that claim.
- “I didn’t think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask at the Mayo Clinic,” Pence told Fox News on Sunday.
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Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday said he should have worn a face mask during his visit to the Mayo Clinic last week.
The vice president was criticised and attracted much attention for being the only one among his party to decline a face mask during a tour of the medical facility in Rochester, Minnesota, last Tuesday.
Pence, the head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, declined on the grounds that he was tested for the coronavirus regularly and was certain he was not infected.
The Mayo Clinic said in a now-deleted tweet that it informed Pence’s team in advance that all visitors were required to don masks. Pence’s wife, Karen, said the vice president did not become aware of the policy until after he had left the clinic.
A Voice of America reporter, Steve Herman, tweeted last Thursday, however, that Pence’s office had told reporters coming to the clinic with Pence that they would need to bring masks – proof that his staff did know the rule.
(After the tweet, Pence’s office threatened to bar Herman from travelling with the vice president on Air Force Two.)
Pence told Fox News on Sunday that it was wrong of him not to wear a mask.
“I didn’t think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask at the Mayo Clinic,” he said, adding that he wore a mask while visiting a General Motors plant in his home state of Indiana two days later.
Pence: I should’ve worn the mask at the Mayo Clinic pic.twitter.com/1EMBw4w2zt
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 4, 2020
The union that represents Mayo Clinic employees on Wednesday, the day after Pence’s visit, said his decision not to cover his face was insulting.
“When Vice President Pence ignores the safety policy and refuses to wear a mask, he insults the hard work and sacrifice of all healthcare workers,” SEIU Healthcare Minnesota said. “Worse, he puts them, their patients, and their families at risk.”