Vice President Mike Pence has sparked widespread outrage from medical professionals who said he recklessly increased the risk of spreading Covid-19 after refusing to wear a mask during his visit to Mayo Clinic headquarters on Tuesday, in violation of the clinic’s policy.
“It is a selfish display by Mike Pence disregarding Mayo Clinic policy by not wearing a mask,” tweeted Dr. Rob Davidson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare. “As an ER doc, on behalf of the staff with whom I work, I think he owes an apology to every essential worker keeping things going and trying not to get sick.”
A Mayo Clinic spokesperson said Pence and his staff were made “aware of our policy regarding masking.” Everyone in Pence’s entourage except the vice president himself wore a face covering.
Video footage of a mask-less Pence walking around inside the facility and speaking with employees quickly went viral on social media.
In response to outrage over his flouting of the Mayo Clinic’s clear safety protocol, Pence told reporters that he didn’t wear a mask because he is “tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus.”
“Since I don’t have the coronavirus,” Pence said, “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,” he added.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) reacted to Pence’s response, writing: “When I warned everyone in February that Pence doesn’t believe in science and shouldn’t be in charge of Covid response.”
When I warned everyone in *February* that Pence doesn’t believe in science and shouldn’t be in charge of COVID response, I meant it.
But I admit I did not have “VP visits COVID patients without wearing a mask” on my bingo board. https://t.co/LmMM3n0Eng
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 29, 2020