Vice President Pence responded to criticisms that he defied Mayo Clinic policy by not wearing a mask during his visit Tuesday to the campus, saying he complied with federal guidelines and felt it was his duty to speak to workers at the facility unencumbered by a facial covering.
"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," he told reporters, saying he is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face masks in public to help prevent transmitting the virus to others.
"And 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.' "
Instructions on the Mayo Clinic website request that all patients, visitors and personnel bring and wear a face mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In a tweet eventually deleted but captured in screenshots and by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, the Mayo Clinic wrote that it had "informed @VP of the masking policy prior to his arrival today."
The Mayo Clinic visit is one of two trips Pence will conduct this week as the White House seeks to ease back into travel.
President Trump has not publicly worn face masks during press briefings and other events, saying earlier this month: "I just don't want to wear one myself. It's a recommendation. They recommend it."
"I don't know. Somehow, I don't see it for myself," Trump said during an April 3 coronavirus task force briefing.