- Vice President Mike Pence is facing backlash for not wearing a face mask during his visit to the Mayo Clinic Tuesday.
- In a now-deleted tweet and a statement from a clinic spokesperson, the facility said it had previously advised him of its policy requiring that masks be worn to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
- Pence later explained his decision, saying that he and those often around him are tested on a regular basis and since he doesn’t have the virus, he thought it would be a good opportunity to meet healthcare workers, “look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.”
- Critics argue that he could still contract and spread the virus in between tests and say both Trump and Pence set poor examples for Americans by not wearing masks themselves.
Vice President Mike Pence toured the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota on Tuesday without wearing a face mask, violating the clinic’s policy aimed at helping slow the spread of COVID-19.
During his visit, Pence participated in a discussion with top doctors at the facility, along with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, a Republican whose district includes the city of Rochester. Pence was also accompanied by federal Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn.
But after images and clips of the visit were released, they showed that Pence appeared to be the only person present without a mask. In once highly viewed clip, the vice president is closely surrounded by at least 10 other people, all of whom are wearing face coverings.
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
Mayo Clinic Alerted Pence’s Team of its Policy
According to the Mayo clinic’s website, as of April 13, “Patients and visitors are asked to bring their own face covering or mask to wear. If a patient or visitor does not have a mask, Mayo Clinic will provide one.”
After being met with questions about Pence’s decision, the Mayo Clinic even sent out a tweet from its official Twitter account saying that it had informed him of its policy before his visit. However, that tweet was deleted about a half-hour after it was posted, according to CNBC.
In response to questions about why Pence wasn’t wearing a mask, the Mayo Clinic tweeted this earlier. Then they deleted it. So that’s normal. pic.twitter.com/7peNxMxx7t— shauna (@goldengateblond) April 28, 2020
A Mayo spokesperson also reiterated the same message as that now-deleted tweet to CNBC, explaining that the clinic had “shared the masking policy with the VP’s office.” The spokesperson, however, did not respond to a question about why the tweet was removed.
Pence Explains His Decision
Aside from violating the clinic’s rules, the vice president’s decision to not wear a mask also goes against the government’s own recommendation, which advises Americans to wear cloth face coverings in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
After touring and speaking with experts, Pence spoke at a news conference at the facility where he was asked why he did not 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.
“When the [federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] issued guidelines about wearing a mask it was their recognition that people that may have the coronavirus could prevent the possibility of conveying the virus to someone else by wearing a mask,” he continued.
“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– this incredible health-care personnel–and look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.’”
Another reporter later asked how frequently he is tested and whether he thought wearing a mask might send “a positive signal to the American public.”
Pence did not directly answer the question about what signal wearing a mask could send, but he reiterated that he was tested “on a regular basis.”
“And I agree with the CDC guidance that wearing a mask doesn’t necessarily protect you from the coronavirus, but wearing a mask might prevent you from inadvertently conveying the virus to a loved one, family member or friend,” the vice president continued.
“So we think they’re very useful in that respect, and we respect that altogether.”
Last week, White House aides told The New York Times why Pence doesn’t feel like he has to wear a mask in public, giving the same explanation Pence issued Tuesday. But the newspaper noted that Pence could contract the virus between his tests, and argued that tests are not always accurate.
Many were frustrated with Pence after the visit, fearful of both the risk of spreading the virus and the message not wearing a mask sends.
Author Stephen King said it, “underlines a largely unspoken problem: the idea that REAL MEN DON’T WEAR FACEMASKS. Going barefaced isn’t macho; it’s stupid.”
CNN’s Don Lemon criticized Pence on air Tuesday night, saying “What about the fact that it is their policy?”
“What about the fact that they offered one upon your arrival? What about the fact it’s possible for a coronavirus test to be inaccurate? And it’s possible for you to contract and spread the virus after you have tested negative.”
He specifically hit on Pence’s remark about looking hospital workers in the eye to thank them. “Come on, You see this mask, right?” he said while placing one over his own face.
“Can you see my eyes?” he asked. “It’s not an eye mask we’re talking about. This is ridiculous.”
Trump Shares Stance on Mask
Pence and President Donald Trump appear to both be on the same page about wearing masks. When Trump announced his administration’s guidance for face coverings on April 3, he admitted that he wouldn’t be wearing one.
“I just don’t want to wear one myself, it’s a recommendation,” Trump said at the time. “Somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, I don’t see it for myself.”
REPORTER: Why are you opposed to wearing a mask?— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 3, 2020
TRUMP: “I just don’t want to wear one myself … I’m feeling good. I just don’t want to be doing– somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk. The great Resolute Desk … I don’t see it for myself.” pic.twitter.com/7dWmQQY3Aw
Trump and Pence’s position on masks for themselves stands in contrast with what local leaders and world leaders are doing. Looking globally, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, French President Emmanuel Macron, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and others have been photographed wearing masks in public.
Kathy Griffin, Ethan Klein, More Suspended From Twitter Over Elon Musk Impersonations
Many have pretended to be Musk in an attempt to highlight the potential issues paid-for verifications could cause on the platform.
Musk Takes on Impersonations
Comedian Kathy Griffin and internet personality Ethan Klein are among the many Twitter users that have been permanently suspended for impersonating the platform’s new CEO, Elon Musk.
Impersonation has long been against Twitter’s rules, but on Sunday, the billionaire took the policy a step further by announcing that “any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended.”
“Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning,” Musk explained. “This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue.”
Musk also said that any user who changes their name will temporarily lose their verification check mark.
The announcement came as many verified users began mocking Musk by changing their name and photo to match his, then tweeting jokes that were either absurd or out of character for the business mogul. Many did this to protest Musk’s plan to charge an $8 monthly subscription fee that would allow any Twitter user to become verified.
Klein was one of many who changed his name to “Elon Musk” and made a photo of the CEO his profile image. The podcast host sent out several jokes, including one referencing the increased use of the N-word on the platform since Musk’s takeover, and another referencing Jeffrey Epstein.
“Even though Jeffrey Epstein committed horrible crimes, I do still miss him on nights like this for his warmth and camaraderie. Rest In Peace old Friend,” he wrote.
His account was quickly banned, but Klein defended himself on TikTok, arguing that both his cover photo and bio labeled his account as “parody” and therefore should be acceptable under Musk’s guidelines.
“What more do you want from me?” he asked. “Comedy is dead. And Elon Musk dug the grave.”
Protests of Musk’s Twitter Control
For her part, Griffin likewise tweeted while masquerading as Musk, writing that after “spirited discussion with the females in my life, I’ve decided that voting blue for their choice is only right.”
Musk joked that she was actually “suspended for impersonating a comedian” and added that she can have her account back if she pays for the $8 subscription. Griffin, however, found another way around the ban.
The comedian logged into her late mother’s Twitter account and began using the hashtag #FreeKathy while calling out Musk.
“Mad Men” actor Rich Sommer and podcaster Griffin Newman have also had their accounts suspended for tweeting as Musk. Other celebrities, including TV producer Shonda Rhimes, musician Sara Bareilles, and model Gigi Hadid have protested Musk’s Twitter reign by leaving the platform altogether.
“For a long time, but especially with its new leadership, it’s becoming more and more of a cesspool of hate & bigotry, and it’s not a place I want to be a part of,” Hadid wrote on Instagram over the weekend.
AOC Says Twitter Notifications “Conveniently” Disabled After Criticizing Musk
“What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me,” she tweeted at the new CEO.
AOC Vs. Elon Musk
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said several of her Twitter features are “conveniently not working” after feuding with the platform’s new owner, billionaire Elon Musk.
Ocasio-Cortez has never been shy about her views on Musk. After he officially took charge of Twitter last week, the congresswoman began criticizing his new proposals for the social networking site, specifically his plan to charge an $8 subscription fee for verification.
“Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that ‘free speech’ is actually a $8/mo subscription plan,” she wrote on Tuesday.
“Your feedback is appreciated, now pay $8,” Musk replied the following day.
Around an hour later, the business mogul sent another tweet appearing to call Ocasio-Cortez out for selling $58 sweatshirts.
“Proud of this and always will be,” she shot back. “My workers are union, make a living wage, have full healthcare, and aren’t subject to racist treatment in their workplaces. Items are made in USA. Team AOC honors and respects working people. You should try it sometime instead of union-busting.”
In a follow-up tweet, she noted that proceeds go to community organizing programs, including one that tutors students who are falling behind because of COVID-19.
AOC’s Mentions Not Working
On Wednesday evening, just hours after her back-and-forth with Musk, Ocasio-Cortez told her followers that her “Twitter mentions/notifications conveniently aren’t working tonight.”
“I was informed via text that I seem to have gotten under a certain billionaire’s skin,” she added. “Just a reminder that money will never [buy] your way out of insecurity, folks.”
The issue seemingly continued into Thursday morning when the Democrat tweeted a screenshot of her notifications page, which loaded no results.
“Why should people pay $8 just for their app to get bricked when they say something you don’t like?” she tweeted at Musk. “This is what my app has looked like ever since my tweet upset you yesterday. What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me.”
Musk has repeatedly claimed that one of his primary motives to buy Twitter was to protect free speech. Once taking the reigns as CEO, though, he did say he would start a content moderation council and make decisions jointly with them.
South Carolina County Votes Against Moving LGBTQ+ Friendly Books Away from Children’s Section
Efforts to limit LGBTQ+ content in libraries first began over the summer.
Attempts to Restrict LGBTQ+ Displays
The county council in Greenville County, South Carolina this week voted against discussing a resolution that would move all books “promoting sexuality” to the adult section.
This resolution is the culmination of months of turmoil in Greenville County. In June, libraries in the county removed Pride displays at the direction of library officials. Then in September, the county’s Republican Party executive board passed a resolution to call on the County Council to restrict access to books with LGBTQ+ themes and characters.
The resolution was proposed by Joe Dill, an outgoing council member, as well as a member of the county’s Republican Party executive board. It proposed the council “officially order that no books or content, including digital copies or online accessible materials, promoting sexuality be allowed in the Children’s Sections of our public libraries.”
However, the resolution required the council to suspend its regular rules in order to discuss it as it was not submitted to the council via committee. The final vote was 9 to 3 against the suspension of the rules and effectively killed the resolution.
Those that voted against it viewed the resolution as an overreach.
“We just do not believe that’s our job to get involved in the library’s business,” Council member Ennis Fett said to a local news outlet. “We appoint a board. We can not set a precedent of micromanaging the library board, because if we do that, then, we will be micromanaging all boards and commissions that we appoint.”
Although the council decided not to get involved, the library still has the final decision to make regarding these books. Their meeting to discuss the matter is scheduled for December 5.