Apparently, at least one prominent member of President Donald Trump’s inner circle can’t even be bothered to abide by the safety precautions enacted by the Mayo Clinic amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. This Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence visited the Mayo Clinic headquarters in Rochester, Minnesota, where he was slated to get a firsthand perspective on the organization’s fight against the Coronavirus. He was caught on camera without a mask during his time at the facility, despite the organization’s standing policy insisting upon masks for anyone who visits. Other officials from the administration wore masks while they were present — but Pence, lo and behold, did not.
VP Pence at Mayo Clinic Minnesota … pic.twitter.com/wahnuFLc82
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) April 28, 2020
Pence failed to wear a mask at numerous junctures of his trip, including when he greeted Democratic Governor Tim Walz upon his arrival in Minnesota, when he visited a medical facility area where a patient was donating blood, and when he helped host a roundtable discussion including figures like Mayo Clinic leadership and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn from the Trump administration. The Minnesota governor was wearing a mask, medical staffers were wearing a mask, and Hahn was as well — but Pence was not.
The Mayo Clinic has apparently deleted this tweet, in which it said it told Pence of its mask policy before he declined to wear one. pic.twitter.com/UAQaWG6E8a
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) April 28, 2020
There’s been no apparent comment from the vice president’s office about the incident, although the Mayo Clinic did tweet and then delete a message insisting that they had informed the vice president of their mask policy prior to his arrival.
Pence faced a lot of criticism for his glib recklessness. If figures like him can’t be trusted on the little things like the basic step of wearing a mask in line with precautions meant to stem the spread of the Coronavirus, then why should they be trusted on the big things?
Activist Fred Guttenberg 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
Meanwhile, anti-Trump conservative activist Bill Kristol pointedly suggested:
‘Pence is a law-abiding and rule-obeying type of person. His out-of-character refusal to wear a mask is explained by this reason only: He thought Trump wouldn’t like it.’
Pence is a law-abiding and rule-obeying type of person. His out-of-character refusal to wear a mask is explained by this reason only: He thought Trump wouldn’t like it. https://t.co/Db4qQFqGdc
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) April 28, 2020
Trump has himself never worn a mask amidst the pandemic. In fact, he complained about the way that it would make him look. In an even slightly more levelheaded administration, that self-centeredness would likely spark a days-long news cycle.
He told reporters:
‘I don’t know, somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful 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, but this will pass and hopefully it’ll pass very quickly.’
That was weeks ago. The pandemic did not pass quickly; for weeks on end at this point, around thousands of Americans have been dying each and every day due to the Coronavirus, and the people in charge of the federal government response can’t even be bothered to wear a mask apparently.