Everyone else in the building was, according to reporters who were traveling with him. After all, it has been the policy at the renowned Rochester, Minnesota, facility since April 13. They even say they’ll provide one.
Pence was told of the new rules before he visited, the clinic said on Twitter, a post that was subsequently deleted.
“Mayo Clinic had informed @VP of the masking policy prior to his arrival today,” they had written.
But as he visited a blood and plasma donation center inside the building, Pence was bare-faced.
Others in the room — including Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration head — wore coverings.
The Mayo Clinic briefed Pence’s team in the last several days about the clinic’s policy requiring face masks, a person involved in planning the visit told CNN. The briefing came after the White House reached out last week about a potential visit. The person said when the clinic told the White House about the policy, it wasn’t clear whether Pence would wear a mask.
When Pence and the team, including reporters, arrived at the clinic, personnel from the facility had masks available for the group, including Pence. During the tour, the rest of the entourage wore masks except Pence.
Another source familiar with discussions said it is clear that — despite what the vice president said in defending himself and not wearing a mask — Pence’s staff understands now it was a mistake. News reports after the visit focused on whether he wore a mask instead of the work being done at the Mayo Clinic, and Pence’s staff believes they should have made sure he wore one to avoid such a news cycle, the source said.
A spokeswoman for Pence, however, said Wednesday it was not a mistake for Pence to forgo wearing a mask at the Mayo Clinic.
“We don’t feel it was a mistake,” spokeswoman Katie Miller told CNN.
Pence did avoid shaking hands; he elbow-bumped instead with doctors and officials.
But he was mask-less as he thanked workers, conferred with hospital administrators and spoke with a Mayo Clinic employee who was donating plasma after being diagnosed with Covid-19 at the end of March.
Afterward, Pence told reporters that he wasn’t wearing a mask because he’s often tested for coronavirus.