Pence refused a mask at Mayo Clinic because he wanted to thank workers by 'looking them in the eye'

Kathryn Krawczyk

Vice President Mike Pence has a very simple explanation for why he avoided wearing a mask around coronavirus patients.

On Tuesday, Pence visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to meet with health care workers and even a COVID-19 patient at the hospital and research center. A photo later showed Pence ignored hospital policy and didn't wear a mask on his tour — and later said it was because he wanted to "look" the workers "in the eye" when thanking them.

"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 said later Tuesday, citing CDC guidance that says masks help stop people who have the coronavirus from spreading it. "I thought it would 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," Pence continued. While masks do cover one's mouth, it is still possible to speak with one on, and they have nothing to do with one's eyes.



The Mayo Clinic tweeted that it had told Pence about the mask policy prior to his arrival, but deleted it shortly after. It now has a tweet saying the clinic was "grateful" to have Pence visit.

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