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Pence Threatens Reporter After Revealing VP was Informed of Mask Protocol at Mayo Clinic

Vice President Mike Pence addresses his remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen) Date: 22 April 2020, 18:46 Source: White House Coronavirus Update Briefing Author: The White House from Washington, DC

“All of us who traveled with him were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly.”

Vice President Mike Pence, the official appointed by President Donald Trump to oversee the COVID-19 pandemic response, visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on Tuesday without wearing a mask. Notably, Pence was photographed meeting a coronavirus survivor with in a group setting, with everyone but the vice president sporting a face mask. Pence’s office has now turned to threatening a reporter who revealed that Pence’s office knew about the mask requirement, The Washington Post reported.

‘Off the Record’

After Pence’s wife explained that her husband wasn’t informed until after his visit, Voice of America News Bureau Chief Steve Herman tweeted, “All of us who traveled with him were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly.”

Pence’s office responded by banning Herman from Air Force Two and according to a spokesman, punishment is “still under discussion, pending an apology from Herman or VOA.”

The vice president’s office argued Herman broke off-the-record conditions of a document emailed to reporters in advance of the Mayo Clinic visit. The Washington Post received a copy of the document that read, “Please note, the Mayo Clinic is requiring all individuals traveling with the VP wear masks. Please bring one to wear while on the trip.”

The words “OFF THE RECORD AND FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY” are also printed on the document, which is standard fare for communication regarding White House travel.

“My tweet speaks for itself,” Herman responded. “We always have and will strictly adhere to keeping off the record any White House communications to reporters for planning purposes involving logistics that have security implications prior to events. . . . All White House pool reporters, including myself and my VOA colleagues, take this very seriously.”

Herman was not the only reporter to share the information, however. Gordon Lubold, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, echoed Herman’s disclosure in a tweet. The Mayo Clinic also initially tweeted that it had informed Pence, but later deleted the tweet and clarified it had not informed him personally, but did brief his office on institution policies.

Putting Workers at Risk

On “Fox & Friends,” Second Lady Karen Pence was asked to respond to the criticism of her husband breaking the rules, CNN reported.

“It was actually after he left Mayo Clinic that he found out that they had a policy of asking everyone to wear a mask. So you know, someone has worked on this whole task force for over 2 months is not someone who would have done anything to offend anyone or hurt anyone or scare anyone. I’m glad that you gave me the opportunity to talk about that.”

As someone who has served as chairman of the coronavirus task force for two months, critics argued Pence should have known better. In the event that he somehow forgot about the safety equipment, looking around at everyone else should have reminded him, they argued.

Jamie Gulley, president of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota union, spoke out against Pence’s actions. His organization includes “thousands of Mayo Clinic workers,” CNBC reported. 

“When Vice President Mike Pence ignores the safety policy and refuses to wear a face mask, he insults the hard work and sacrifice of all healthcare workers,” Gulley said. “Worse, he puts them, their patients, and their families at risk.”

Obeying the Rules Now

Pence defended his decision not to wear a mask.

“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. “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.”

However, tests for COVID-19 can fail to detect the virus 25% of the time in patients who exhibit symptoms, The New York Times reported. In cases without symptoms, it is unknown how effective tests are.

When Pence made a visit to a General Motors plant producing ventilators on Thursday, his face was noticeably covered with a white mask, CNBC reported. However, following the tour, Pence and delegates from Washington met with GM CEO Marry Barra and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in a private setting. There, Pence and other attendees removed their masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state,” Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.”

Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis is Managing Editor for The Osage County Herald-Chronicle in Kansas and also covers International news for Inside Over, a Milan-based global affairs publication. He graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Outside of writing, he enjoys photography and one day hopes to return to video production. Learn more about him at his website danieldavis.la.

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