[UPDATE May 8, 2020 — 12:55 p.m. EST: After a clip of Vice President Mike Pence visiting a nursing home facility with PPE equipment in Virginia went viral on Friday morning, the footage is now being noted as incomplete after BuzzFeed reported it was "selectively" edited to appear on comedian, Jimmy Kimmel's eponymous late night talk show on ABC as satire. The complete clip from C-SPAN shows Pence loading and unloading boxes with some weight, as he gets assistance. Upon returning to the van, he jokes about empty boxes, to which the individual helping him laughs. Immediately closing the van door, Pence does not proceed to carry any boxes he was informed are empty. As video can show though, he still did not wear a mask.]
Vice President Mike Pence did not wear a face mask when delivering empty boxes of personal protective equipment (PPE) to a nursing home in Virginia in what has been described as a PR stunt. In hot mic video obtained by C-SPAN and jokingly criticized by Jimmy Kimmel on his late night talk show, the vice president can be seen lifting what at first appears to be heavy boxes, though he later gives away that there is nothing inside them at all.
Mike Pence caught on hot mic delivering empty boxes of PPE for a PR stunt. pic.twitter.com/IduvGhiPwj— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) May 8, 2020
The video was recorded Thursday as the vice president delivered boxes of personal protective equipment outside the Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Alexandria, Virginia, where there are several COVID-19 patients, according to NBC News. Just after leaving two boxes at the doorstep, Pence wheeled the cart back to the vehicle packed with more boxes, where someone can be heard informing him "those are empty, sir." Pence then asks, "can I carry the empty ones just for the camera?"
Along with delivering empty boxes — it is unclear how many of the boxes were empty — many people noticed that Pence and those accompanying him were not wearing gloves or face masks as they delivered the PPE. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the White House coronavirus task force led by Pence, recommends that Americans wear face masks and coverings when in public. The Thursday outing marked the second time in a little more than a week that Pence has ignored those recommendations.
Visiting the Mayo Clinic on April 28, the vice president sparked outrage when he was spotted as the only person on the tour not wearing a face mask as he met with healthcare professionals working the frontlines of the pandemic as well as COVID-19 patients. The hospital had enacted a policy more than a week prior to his visit requiring that "all patients, visitors and staff" wear a face mask or covering when in the facility, and in a since-deleted tweet, the clinic had confirmed that Pence's team had been made aware of the policy ahead of his visit.
While Pence initially defended his lack of PPE by stating that he is tested for the virus "on a regular basis" and that he wanted to be able to look the healthcare workers he was meeting with "in the eye and say thank you," and his wife claimed that he had not known of the policy until after his visit, Pence later admitted that he "should have worn a mask."