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Pence forgoes a face mask at Mayo Clinic, appearing to violate policy

LaPook on Pence not wearing mask at clinic
Dr. LaPook reacts to Pence not wearing mask at Mayo Clinic 03:07

Vice President Mike Pence was captured on camera without a face mask on during a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on Tuesday, violating Mayo Clinic policy that all patients and visitors wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Mayo Clinic took to Twitter almost immediately, writing that Pence was informed of the policy ahead of time, but later deleted the tweet. 

Pence, tasked with leading the Coronavirus Task Force instantly sparked criticism online when he was pictured without a mask near masked staff members and a masked patient at the Mayo Clinic. According to the radio pooler present, all media members were told to wear masks and all but perhaps two others visible in the building were wearing masks.

Mike Pence tours Mayo Clinic without mask
Vice President Mike Pence visits Dennis Nelson, a recovered COVID-19 disease patient who is now donating his blood for research on the virus and disease, as Pence tours Mayo Clinic facilities in Rochester, Minnesota, on April 28, 2020. Reuters

The Mayo Clinic tweeted that Pence was made aware of the policy before the visit, but shortly thereafter, the tweet no longer existed on the clinic's Twitter feed.

"Mayo Clinic had informed @VP of the masking policy prior to his arrival today," the clinic tweeted Tuesday afternoon before deleting the tweet.

Mayo Clinic tweet on April 28, 2020.

It later tweeted its appreciation for Pence's visit.

"We are grateful that @VP and @GovTimWalz visited Mayo Clinic today to hear about our work fighting the #COVID19 pandemic. We look forward to continued collaboration to develop essential testing and treatment for our patients and communities," the Mayo Clinic tweeted.

Other Trump administration officials, including Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, wore masks for the trip and roundtable discussion.

CBS News has requested a comment from the Mayo Clinic. Later in the visit, reporters asked the vice president why he didn't wear a mask.

"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, adding that he wanted to look workers and researchers "in the eye and say thank you."

The vice president's office did not say when Pence was last tested for the virus.

Pence was soundly criticized for the decision.

"@MayoClinic has a policy requiring all visitors to wear a mask. Pence ignored it. That's not the sound judgment we want to see from the head of the coronavirus task force," Rep. Sean Maloney, a Democrat, tweeted.

The Mayo Clinic says it derived its policy from the Centers for Disease Control, which has recommended, but not required, that Americans wear masks in public. Masks are meant to decrease the likelihood of the person wearing the mask from transmitting the virus.

The president too has dismissed the idea of wearing a mask around others, after the CDC made its recommendation.

"I'm feeling good, I just don't want to be doing, 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, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know somehow I don't see it for myself. I just don't. Maybe I'll change my mind," the president said earlier this month. 

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