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Pence says he should have worn face mask at Mayo Clinic

  • Pete Schroeder

    Reuters

Washington, United States   /   Mon, May 4, 2020   /   10:53 am
Pence says he should have worn face mask at Mayo Clinic Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. President Donald Trump listen as Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks to the press about the threat of the coronavirus from the Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. President Trump announced Vice President Mike Pence will lead the Coronavirus Task Force. (Bloomberg/ Sarah Silbiger)

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Sunday that he erred in not wearing a face mask during a visit with patients at the Mayo Clinic last month.

The decision by Pence not to wear a mask was slammed by critics, who said it undermined efforts to slow the spread of the respiratory virus that has caused more than 67,000 deaths in the United States. Pence heads the Trump administration's anti-coronavirus effort.

During an appearance at a town hall event with President Donald Trump on Fox News, Pence said that while he did not believe he posed a risk to others, he still should have worn the mask required of other patients and visitors at the healthcare facility in Minnesota. "I didn't think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask at the Mayo Clinic," he said.

Pence was photographed during the April visit as the lone person not wearing a face mask alongside patients and healthcare professionals. He previously defended the decision, citing US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that say a mask primarily serves to prevent wearers from spreading the infection, not from guarding against it.

Pence had said he and Trump were frequently tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and was confident he did not pose a risk.

On Sunday, he added that beyond its public health purpose, wearing the mask carried important symbolic weight as well.

"It's really a statement about the American people, the way they have been willing to step forward, practice social distancing and wear masks in settings where they can't do that," he said.