On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence visited the May Clinic in Minnesota, and he refused to wear a face mask. Pence toured the facility, meeting with doctors, nurses and patients as part of his role as the head of the White House coronavirus response task force. The vice president was heavily criticized for turning down a face mask.
Pence was filmed throughout his trip to the Mayo Clinic — one of the most lauded medical centers in the United States. While everyone around him wore surgical masks or N95 respirators, the vice president's face was bare. This did not go without comment either, as as reporters asked Pence why he was not wearing a mask. The vice president responded that he did not need to and did not want to, despite his own administration's direct recommendations.
"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, according to a report by The Daily Mail. "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 healthcare personnel and look them in the eye and say thank you."
The Mayo Clinic has a policy in place requiring all visitors to wear masks when they are inside the facility, and they provide one if the visitor does not have their own. In a now-deleted tweet, the official Mayo Clinic Twitter account noted that Pence was advised about the mask requirement before he arrived on Tuesday.
Viewers were baffled by the vice president's disregard for this rule. As many pointed out, surgical masks are not to protect the wearer, but the people around them. The vice president could have endangered the people in the hospital with the germs he carried from outside, as many patients' immune systems are already stretched to their absolute limits.
Aside from that, some that that the vice president should have at least shown solidarity with the healthcare workers and patients inside by wearing the same gear they wear. Many remarked that this was the latest in a pattern of Pence and President Donald Trump flouting the recommendations that come from within their own administration.
For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization. In the meantime, here is what Twitter had to say about Pence's refusal to wear a mask in the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday.
'Protect the Patients'
This is so shameful; shows such a callous disregard for the health of the fellow citizens he purports to lead, and so clearly an example of his utter cowardice and fear of Donald Trump, it's hard to believe this man was ever elected to any office at all. https://t.co/1XoVBDlMfh— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) April 28, 2020
Removal From Task Force
Pence broke hospital protocol and didn’t wear a mask while on a tour today, so he should be removed immediately as the head of the coronavirus task force. He never should’ve been leading it in the first place.— Scott Dworkin (@funder) April 28, 2020
Trump and Pence's refusal to follow their own government's guidance and wear masks in public stands in contrast to a variety of world leaders who have been photographed with them on https://t.co/N0U0xlIBTY— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 28, 2020
VP Mike Pence refused to wear a mask today at the Mayo Clinic, even though it’s their policy, he was told it’s their policy, and he potentially endangered every patient in the building, and health care workers, by not wearing one. The arrogance of these people. pic.twitter.com/IXOlO88e9R— John Aravosis 🇺🇸 (@aravosis) April 28, 2020
'In the Eye'
Mike Pence said he didn’t wear a mask because he wanted to be able to look healthcare workers in the eye and thank them. And now all I want to know is just exactly how the head of the task force is wearing his mask at other times. Like a blindfold?— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) April 28, 2020
Pence on no mask at Mayo: "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.” (note: you can look at people in the eye with mask on)— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) April 28, 2020