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Pence refuses to wear mask in visit to virus patients at Mayo Clinic

Pence refuses to wear mask in visit to virus patients at Mayo Clinic

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In times of a national health crisis, America expects its leaders to set examples for the general population and be the benchmark for behavioral standards.

Since Donald Trump promised during his 2016 campaign to institute massive changes to the way government as usual would be conducted, it hasn’t been surprising to see the president and his administration violate just about every standard of executive branch behavior that came before it.

Still, the unintended consequences of holding the Trump administration to a standard of behavior lower than the Mariana Trench are becoming increasingly clear — and increasingly disturbing — during the coronavirus pandemic.

Practicing what medical professional preach would be the very least one could expect from the man that the president appointed to lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Yet, there was Vice President Mike Pence touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota today, visiting patients infected with the COVID-19 virus while blatantly ignoring the Clinic’s requirement that all visitors wear face coverings when entering their testing center.

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Video posted on Twitter of the vice president’s visit likely inspired quick questions of “what’s wrong with this picture?” from viewers who wouldn’t need more than a cursory glance to see which one of these people was different from the rest.

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The journalist who posted the footage noted that the clinic could have required that Pence don a mask before entering the premises, but it soon became apparent that they did inform the vice president of their regulations and they simply capitulated to a powerful politician’s desire to make sure his face wasn’t obscured for the TV cameras brought in tow.

What’s worse is the likelihood that the Mayo Clinic was complicit in covering up for Pence’s violations of safety protocols by deleting the tweet that they had posted that essentially said: “Well, we told him he had to wear a mask! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

While everyone else who was wearing a mask was unlikely to spread the virus to the vice president, he was in an indoor environment at a testing center where anyone would be at higher risk of encountering stray virus particles floating around and potentially become at least initially an asymptomatic “super-spreader” of the disease.

To be clear, the Vice President of the United States has the power to set an example for other Americans to follow. Setting aside medical guidance put forward by his own administration not only sets a dangerous example, it insults the healthcare professionals working overtime to save lives, those whose jobs he has likely made more difficult.

Besides setting a terrible example for every other American at a time when too many people are not treating the virus as seriously as they should — as the right-wing demonstrators calling for reopening of businesses sooner than is safe for public health and the people flocking to beaches this past weekend have demonstrated — Pence’s disregard for the Mayo Clinic’s mask protocols indicates how little he actually cares about the health and safety of those with whom he comes into contact every day.

Then again, why would Mike Pence care about anything else besides himself and his political future when his boss, the president, sets the standard for Republican selfishness and disregard for anyone but himself and a few billionaire donors?

Check back in 14 days, to see if we have a followup story on the vice president’s testing status. And let’s see how closely Donald Trump lets Pence stand next to him at the next press briefing.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Original reporting by Grace Panetta at Business Insider.

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