CNN host Don Lemon blasted Mike Pence last night for visiting a clinic treating people for coronavirus without wearing a mask.
Yesterday, a video of Pence visiting the Mayo Clinic to learn about the research they’re doing into coronavirus went viral. Everyone in the video – save Pence – was wearing masks.
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PENCE flouts Mayo Clinic policy that everyone on campus wear a mask, even as he meets with staff and a patient. pic.twitter.com/kfo64KQDhU
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) April 28, 2020
Just after the video was made public, the Mayo Clinic said on Twitter that Pence was informed of their policy requiring people to wear masks. That tweet was later deleted.
Deleting it doesn't make it go away. Are the rules just for some people? pic.twitter.com/AvfTOxiZ8b
— Anne McCarthy (@AM_McCarthy) April 28, 2020
Pence is the official leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, despite his lack of background in medicine and his bungled reaction to HIV as governor of Indiana.
When asked about the Mayo Clinic visit later, Pence said that he didn’t wear a mask because he’s “tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis.”
“When the CDC issued guidelines about wearing a mask, it was their recognition that people that they have the coronavirus could prevent the possibility of conveying the virus to someone else by wearing a mask,” Pence said in a press conference.
“And since I don’t have the coronavirus, 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.”
On CNN last night, Lemon sighed in frustration and called that explanation “ridiculous.”
“What about the fact it’s possible for a coronavirus test to be inaccurate?” Lemon said. “And it’s possible for you to contract and spread the virus after you’ve tested negative?”
Lemon played clips of Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx telling people that it’s possible to catch the virus immediately after getting tested for it and spread it before symptoms show, because the test – at best – only determines whether a person has COVID-19 at one moment in time.
This is similar to advice public health officials have been giving about HIV for decades: getting tested regularly is beneficial, but it doesn’t mean you can’t catch and transmit the virus in the period between tests. Getting tested regularly does not negate the risk that comes from interacting with others without protection.
Lemon then addressed Pence’s other excuse, that he needed to look the researchers in the eye.
“Come on,” said Lemon as he put on a mask. “Can you see my eyes? It’s not an eye mask we’re talking about.”
“This is ridiculous. We all know that you can look somebody in the eye while wearing a mask. Millions of Americans have been wearing masks during this pandemic. Guess what? They can still see.”