Vice President Mike Pence walked around the Mayo Clinic without a mask or PPE to protect himself from the coronavirus despite being told to do so on Tuesday.
Pence visited the clinic to observe the plasma research program for the treatment of coronavirus. He was the only person who was part of the tour to not wear a mask or any protective gear to keep himself safe from the contagious virus.
Pence showed up to the Mayo Clinic.
He’s the only person ignoring their mask regulations.
At a medical center. pic.twitter.com/zN83TMcYv2
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) April 28, 2020
Aides close to the vice president told The New York Times that he did not need to wear one because he is tested regularly for the coronavirus.
“When the face-covering guidelines were developed, it was with the intention to not only protect yourself, but primarily to protect others from asymptomatic spread,” said Katie Miller, Mr. Pence’s spokeswoman stated last week. “Vice President Pence is negative for Covid-19 and is therefore not asymptomatic.”
However, the Mayo Clinic tweeted and then deleted that Pence was informed to wear PPE.
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
Furthermore, health experts declared that those who do not have symptoms could still be vulnerable.
“We don’t actually have the estimates for the sensitivity, the ability to rule out false negatives, for asymptomatic testing,” Dr. Mark Loeb, a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at McMaster University said. “So it’s certainly something, but it doesn’t necessarily rule out infection.”
Disregarding wearing PPE while asking the public to do the same runs the risk of undermining the seriousness of the health pandemic.
“If you’re instructing people to do stuff and you yourself aren’t doing it, that often sends the wrong message, and that’s an inconsistency in the guidance,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told The Times.
There was speculation that some public health officials such as Pence did not wear masks for political reasons. They did not want to be seen as hiding.
“Masks, whether worn by superheroes or villains, hide your identity,” said Philippe Reines, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Not always a good idea when you’re selling yourself.”
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