Vice President Mike Pence was spotted wearing a mask during his Thursday visit to a Kokomo, Indiana, facility making ventilators amid the coronavirus pandemic. As he toured the General Motors plant with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and GM CEO Mary Barra, the vice president kept a cloth covering over his mouth and nose, just two days after he faced criticism for failing to wear a mask while visiting the Mayo Clinic.
Pence had faced fierce backlash earlier this week following his visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Speaking with health care workers working the frontlines and visiting with COVID-19 patients being treated at the facility, Pence was the only person in his group to forego a face covering, a requirement for "all patients, visitors and staff" at the Mayo Clinic, according to an April 13 policy update. Photos from his visit quickly stirred controversy on social media, with the hashtag "Pence Is An Idiot" trending on Twitter. Pence, however, in defending his lack of a face covering, said that he was unaware of the policy, said that he followed federal guidelines.
"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 told reporters. “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 health care personnel and look them in the eye and say thank you."
Speaking on Fox & Friends Thursday morning, just hours before his visit to the GM factory, Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, also addressed the controversy, claiming that her husband had been unaware of the Mayo Clinic's policy despite a since-deleted tweet from the facility stating that the vice president had been informed prior to his visit.
"As our medical experts have told us, wearing a mask prevents you from spreading disease. And knowing he doesn't have COVID-19, he didn't wear one," she said. "It was actually after he left Mayo Clinic that he found out they had a policy of asking everyone to wear a mask. So someone who’s worked on this whole task force for over two months is not someone who would have done anything offend anyone, or hurt anyone, or scare anyone."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people wear cloth face coverings when in public and in places where "social distancing measures are difficult to maintain," such as grocery stores and pharmacies. The coverings, the CDC says, help "to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others."