Second lady Karen Pence told Fox News on Thursday that Vice President Pence was completely unaware of the Mayo Clinic’s policy requiring all visitors to wear a face covering until after he left the facility on Tuesday.
“As our medical experts have told us, wearing a mask prevents you from spreading disease. And knowing he doesn’t have COVID-19, he didn’t wear one,” she said on “Fox & Friends.”
“It was actually after he left Mayo Clinic that he found out they had a policy of asking everyone to wear a mask,” the second lady continued. “So someone who’s worked on this whole task force for over two months is not someone who would have done anything to offend anyone or hurt anyone or scare anyone.”
On Fox & Friends, Karen Pence defends her husband for not wearing a mask at the Mayo Clinic, claiming he didn't know they had a mandatory mask policy until after he left. pic.twitter.com/c6IgVhEqng
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) April 30, 2020
The vice president’s visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota was largely overshadowed by his decision not to wear a face covering in defiance of the clinic’s policy.
Pence was the only individual in the building seen without a mask during his visit as he participated in a tour and held a roundtable discussion with physicians, nurses and researchers.
On Tuesday, the clinic tweeted, then later deleted, a message confirming that it had informed Pence of its masking policy prior to his arrival in Rochester.
“Mayo Clinic had informed @VP of the making policy prior to his arrival today,” the Mayo Clinic tweeted.
And Mayo Clinic deleted it's Pence mask tweet … pic.twitter.com/3LHP7fcmbe
— Tom LoBianco (@tomlobianco) April 28, 2020
“Mayo shared the masking policy with the VP’s office,” the clinic said in an emailed statement after deleting the tweet.
PENCE flouts Mayo Clinic policy that everyone on campus wear a mask, even as he meets with staff and a patient. pic.twitter.com/kfo64KQDhU
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) April 28, 2020
The vice president defended his decision at the time, saying that CDC guidance on masks is meant to prevent those with the virus from spreading it. Because he is tested regularly and was aware he was negative for the virus, he reasoned the mask was not necessary.
“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,” Pence told reporters traveling with him.
“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,” he added.