Second lady Karen Pence said her husband Vice President Mike Pence did not know about the Mayo Clinic’s mask policy until after his visit to the medical center on Tuesday when he appeared to violate the clinic’s rules by not wearing a face covering.
“Wearing a mask prevents you from spreading the disease, and knowing that he doesn’t have COVID-19, he didn’t wear one. It was actually after he left Mayo Clinic that he found out they had a policy of asking everyone to wear a mask,” Karen Pence said during a Fox and Friends interview.
The vice president meant no offense and did not mean to scare or hurt anyone, Karen Pence said.
Mike Pence toured the Minnesota medical center to meet with patients and staff, but without wearing a mask, a violation of the Mayo Clinic’s rules asking all visitors to wear a mask.
Speaking to reporters following his visit, Pence said he did not wear a mask because he had tested negative for the coronavirus. Pence said he was following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines about mask-wearing, which recommend the wearing of masks in public to prevent the spread of the virus.
Pence added he wanted to “be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you.”
Pence’s visit to Mayo Clinic: Mike Pence appears to violate Mayo Clinic mask-wearing policy during visit
In a since-deleted post, the Mayo Clinic’s Twitter account said they had “informed @VP of the masking policy prior to his arrival today.”
The Mayo Clinic posted later Tuesday that they were “grateful” for the visits to the clinic by Pence and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and looked “forward to continued collaboration to develop essential testing and treatment for our patients and communities.”
During a Thursday trip to a General Motors plant in Indiana that had been converted to produce ventilators, Pence wore a face mask during his tour, as did other Trump administration officials in attendance including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
President Donald Trump said he hasn’t decided if he will wear a mask when he visits a Honeywell aerospace facility in Phoenix on Tuesday.
“I’ll have to see the climate – I’ll have to look and see where I am,” he told reporters at the White House on Thursday. But, “depending on the conditions, I would have no problem with wearing a mask,” he said.
Trump said he will give a speech at Honeywell and wondered if it would be “politically correct” to do that while wearing a mask. “If it is, I’ll speak in a mask,” he said.
Contributing: Michael Collins