Mike Pence tours medical clinic without a face mask

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US vice president Mike Pence chose not to wear a face mask during a tour of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical centre’s policy requiring them.

Video feeds show Mr Pence did not wear a mask when he met a Mayo employee who has recovered from Covid-19 and is now donating plasma, even though all other people in the room appeared to be wearing one.

He was also without a mask when he visited a lab where Mayo conducts coronavirus tests.

Mayo tweeted that it had informed the vice president of its mask policy before his arrival, but the tweet was later removed.

Mayo officials did not directly respond to a request for comment on why it was removed, or at whose request. “Mayo shared the masking policy with the VP’s office,” the health care system said in its response.

Mr Pence explained his decision by stressing he had been frequently tested for the virus.

Virus Outbreak Pence
Vice President Mike Pence visits the molecular testing lab at Mayo Clinic (Jim Mone/AP)

“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 healthcare personnel, and look them in the eye and say ‘Thank you’.”

Mr Pence is not the only White House official who has shown a reluctance for face masks.

When President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines recommending Americans wear face coverings in public, he immediately said he had no intention of following that advice himself, saying: “I’m choosing not to do it.”

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump recently announced the recommendation from medical experts that people should wear face masks during the pandemic, then promptly said he would not follow that advice (Evan Vucci/AP)

Some at the event in Madison, Wisconsin, wore masks and others did not.

The White House said then that Mr Pence had tested negative for the coronavirus and suggested that under the guidelines developed by the coronavirus taskforce there was no need for him to wear a mask.

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