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Pence comes under fire for going maskless at Mayo Clinic

Kevin Freking
Associated Press

Rochester, Minn. – Vice President Mike Pence chose not to wear a face mask Tuesday during a tour of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical center’s policy requiring them.

Video feeds show that Pence did not wear a mask when he met with a Mayo employee who has recovered from COVID-19 and is now donating plasma, even though everyone else in the room appeared to be wearing one. He was also maskless when he visited a lab where Mayo conducts coronavirus tests.

Vice President Mike Pence, center, visits a patient who survived the coronavirus and was going to give blood during a tour of the Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., as he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. Pence chose not to wear a face mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It's an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical center's policy requiring them.

And Pence was the only participant not to wear a mask during a roundtable discussion on Mayo’s coronavirus testing and research programs. All the other participants did, including Food and Drug Administration chief Stephen Hahn, top Mayo officials, Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn.

Mayo tweeted that it had informed the vice president of its mask policy prior to his arrival. The tweet was later removed. Mayo officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why it was removed, or at whose request.

Pence also went without a mask a week earlier when he visited a GE Healthcare facility that makes ventilators. Some at the event in Madison, Wisconsin, wore masks and others did not. The White House said then that Pence had tested negative for the coronavirus and suggested that under the guidelines developed by the coronavirus task force there was no need for him to wear a mask.

The vice president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why Pence chose not to wear a mask at the Mayo Clinic.

Vice President Mike Pence visits the molecular testing lab at Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., where he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment.