The United States Vice President has caused outrage for touring a hospital without wearing a mask, despite hospital policy being you have to wear a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Footage of Mike Pence bumping elbows instead of dishing out handshakes at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota caused a stir online, due to his lack of face mask while everyone around him, including patients, adhered to the policy by wearing a face mask.
Mr Pence is currently the head of Donald Trump’s coronavirus taskforce and according to CNBC, the VP is regularly tested for the coronavirus and has consistently returned negative results.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone visiting The Mayo Clinic, including staff and patients, is required to wear a face mask.
According to CNN, Mr Pence was visiting the blood and plasma donation centre inside the clinic. He was also reportedly without a mask when he visited a lab where Mayo conducts coronavirus tests.
The Mayo Clinic shared a tweet which was later deleted, saying the Vice President was informed of its policy prior to his arrival.
“Mayo Clinic had informed @VP of the masking policy prior to his arrival today,” according to US media outlets, including CNBC which provided a screenshot taken before it was deleted.
Mayo Clinic took that tweet down right quick pic.twitter.com/5cHJfuWduB— AJ Mirabelle - the 'rona stole my hugs 🦄 (@aj_mirabelle) April 28, 2020
Mr Pence, his entourage of officials and reporters were all provided with masks before the tour commenced according to CNN.
After the tour, Mr Pence then offered an excuse as to why he did not wear a mask.
"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 said.
Mr Pence added that he is following CDC guidelines, which indicate that the mask is good for preventing the spread of the virus by those who have it.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines recommending that Americans wear face coverings when in public, he immediately said he had no intention of following that advice himself, saying “I’m choosing not to do it.”
Online, people expressed their dismay with the Vice President’s disregard for the policy.
“Do you really think you should have been at a hospital without a mask as every other professional had on?” one person tweeted.
“You are a self absorbed a**. You can put others at harm if you are asymptomatic. Disgraceful behaviour.”
Even former 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard weighed in.
“Pence thumbed his nose at Mayo Clinic policy requiring everyone to mask,” she tweeted.
“They should have denied him entrance, and not kowtowed to his arrogance.”
The United States has over one million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the nation’s death toll has surpassed 58,000, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.