Mike Pence

Pence Tours Mayo Clinic Without Mask Even Though He Was Told to Wear One

Vice President Mike Pence visits the Mayo Clinic without a mask
Press Pool Video

KEY POINTS

  • Vice President Mike Pence toured the Mayo Clinic without a mask despite that renowned medical facility requiring all visitors had to wear masks to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
  • Pence, who leads the White House’s coronavirus task force, said he is regularly tested for the virus, and so far has been shown to be negative for it.
  • President Donald Trump has said that he will not wear a mask, even as more than 1 million Americans have contracted the virus that causes COVID-19.

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday toured the Mayo Clinic without wearing a mask, despite that renowned medical facility telling him that masks are required for visitors and everyone else there to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Video from a journalist pool camera at the Mayo Clinic at one point shows that 10 people in the area around Pence, including a patient, were wearing masks and personal protective equipment.

Pence, who leads President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, later suggested to reporters that he did not need to wear a mask because he is tested regularly for the virus, and does not have it.

The Mayo Clinic, which is located in Rochester, Minn., is requiring all patients, visitors and staff to wear a face covering or mask to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The clinic said in a Twitter post that it had informed Pence of its policy mandating mask before he toured the facility.

The clinic said in a Twitter post that it had informed Pence of its policy mandating a mask before he toured the facility.

"Mayo Clinic had informed @VP of the masking policy prior to his arrival today," Mayo Clinic wrote.

About a half-hour after that tweet was posted, it was deleted by the Mayo Clinic.

Vice President Mike Pence visits the Mayo Clinic without a mask
Press Pool Video
In this pool image, Vice President Mike Pence Visits the Mayo Clinic Rochester Facilities, April 28, 2020. Pence is surrounded by 9 other people with masks including a patient.

Other video shows people wearing masks when they greeted Pence at an airport. The vice president was not wearing a mask when he got off his plane and headed to the Mayo Clinic.

While at the facility, Pence participated in a discussion with top doctors there, along with Minnesota Gov. Governor Tim Walz and Rep. Jim Hagedorn, a Republican whose district in Minnesota includes the city of Rochester.

Pence appeared to be the only official who participated in that discussion who did not wear a mask, according to a pool report.

On the same day that Pence visited the Mayo Clinic, the tally of Americans who have been diagnosed with coronavirus infection topped 1 million. At least 57,266 Americans have died from COVID-19.

Pence was asked about why he did not wear a mask in the very first question at his press conference at the Mayo Clinic.

"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.

"When the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] issued guidelines about wearing a mask it was their recognition that people that may have the coronavirus could prevent the possibility of conveying the virus to someone else by wearing a mask, and since I don’t have the coronavirus I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to be here to be able to speak to these researchers, this incredible health-care personnel and look them in the eye and say thank you," Pence said.

A Mayo Clinic spokesman, when asked for comment, said in an email that, "Mayo shared the masking policy with the VP’s office."

The spokesman did not respond to the question of why the Mayo Clinic deleted its tweet about Pence.

Pence’s aides last week told The New York Times that he did not wear a mask for the same reasons he gave Tuesday.

But the newspaper noted that Pence could contract the virus between his tests, and that the tests are not always accurate.

Should Your State Reopen?

For states considering lifting quarantine measures, the official guidelines propose either a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases within two weeks or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests.

As shown below, when you compare yesterday’s new case count with that of two weeks ago, the number is often lower, simply because the counts fluctuate. Critics call the measures vague and ultimately because they aren’t binding, some states are choosing to reopen whether they meet the criteria or not.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC

Trump three weeks ago said that new guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all Americans to wear masks in public settings, to help reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

But Trump said he would not follow that guidance himself.

"I just don’t want to wear one myself, it’s a recommendation," Trump said at the time.

"Somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, I don’t see it for myself," Trump said.

- Additional reporting by Tucker Higgins

This story first appeared on CNBC.com. More from CNBC:

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