This Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence attracted heavy scrutiny for visiting the Mayo Clinic without wearing a mask, which broke the medical facility’s own protocol, which features a demand for all visitors to wear a face covering amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Those guidelines mirror admonishment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) itself for Americans to use masks in public settings amidst the pandemic. Pence eventually excused himself for not wearing a mask by sharing how he wanted to look medical staffers “in the eye” to thank them for their service — but masks don’t cover eyes, so basically he was just pulling an excuse out of thin air, it seems.
Pence is irresponsible, duplicitous, and arrogant, not the qualities of an effective leader. https://t.co/jpsiNUlJ2r
— Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) April 28, 2020
He also pointed out that the point of recommendations for mask-wearing is to keep individuals who may have the Coronavirus and not know it from spreading it to others. While it is true that Pence has been tested as part of his duties as vice president, suggesting that there’s a 100 percent certainty that he did not have the disease at the time of his Tuesday Mayo Clinic visit is just recklessly naive.
Everyone is wearing a face mask in this photo.
So who's the dummy?
Yet who's in charge?
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) April 28, 2020
Pence told reporters:
‘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. 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.’
Again — the medical masks that are in such high demand amidst the Coronavirus pandemic don’t cover people’s eyes, so what exactly is Pence talking about? He seems to be implying, after all, that his intention to “look them in the eye and say thank you” figured into his decision to appear at the Mayo Clinic without a mask.
Dear @VP Pence: The virus has incubation period of up to 14 days. Do you get tested every day? If you tested negative 3 days ago it doesn’t mean you couldn’t shed the virus today. Also, these tests are not perfect. I have asked repeatedly & @CDCgov refuses to disclose error rate. https://t.co/aWfgg4utyR
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 28, 2020
Repeatedly throughout his trip, he was the odd man out in terms of mask usage. He was the only person in a photograph of a moment in the Mayo Clinic’s medical facility who was not wearing a mask, and when he hosted a roundtable discussion featuring members like Mayo Clinic leadership and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn from the Trump administration, he was again the only participating official without a mask. The officials at the roundtable discussion even sat a significant distance apart, in line with social distancing guidelines — but lo and behold, Pence did not wear a mask.
VP Pence displays unconscionable disregard for the lives of others by refusing to wear a mask at Mayo Clinic. He should have been refused entrance. https://t.co/G4LkQ6X0n8
— Shanlon Wu (@shanlonwu) April 28, 2020
Pence faced a lot of criticism for his recklessness. Activist Fred Guttenberg, for instance, tweeted:
‘Just want to say @VP is an irresponsible idiot who just put health care workers and patients at risk. Mr. Pence, if you want to put yourself at risk of coronavirus and the potential deadly consequences, that is fine. Putting others at risk is not.’
Just want to say @VP is an irresponsible idiot who just put health care workers and patients at risk.
Mr. Pence, if you want to put yourself at risk of coronavirus and the potential deadly consequences, that is fine. Putting others at risk is not.pic.twitter.com/i0tNpJqEcu
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) April 28, 2020
It would be a lot easier to trust Pence and the rest of the Trump administration to actually competently handle the big questions of the federal government’s Coronavirus response were they to credibly handle the smaller questions, like mask-wearing.