Vice President Pence on Thursday donned a face mask as he toured a General Motors plant in Indiana, marking the first time he’s worn a mask on camera.
It came just days after he defended his decision not to wear one in defiance of the Mayo Clinic’s policy on a visit to Minnesota.
The vice president was joined by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) on the trip to the GM plant. All wore masks during the tour of the facility, which has been converted to produce ventilators.
“You’re making a difference for America,” Pence told one employee, flashing a thumbs-up to others.
After he was criticized for not wearing a mask at the Mayo Clinic earlier this week, Vice President Pence is now wearing a mask as he tours a General Motors facility today. pic.twitter.com/qtAPZcILAO
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) April 30, 2020
Pence and other officials, including GM leaders, removed their masks during a roundtable event following the tour of the factory floor.
GM brought employees back to the Kokomo, Ind., plant earlier this month to ramp up production of ventilators needed to help treat those with coronavirus. The facility has already produced thousands of the machines, which have been distributed to hospitals in need.
The company has a policy that requires all workers to wear medical-grade protective masks during their shifts, though it does not specify whether visitors should wear masks.
Still, Pence’s decision to do so was notable given he had declined to wear one two days earlier during a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
The vice president defended his decision at the time, saying that CDC guidance on masks is meant to prevent those with the virus from spreading it. Because he is tested regularly and was aware he was negative for the virus, he reasoned the mask was not necessary.
The Mayo Clinic issued guidance on April 13 requiring all patients and visitors to wear a face covering or mask in accordance with updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The clinic said it would provide masks for those who did not bring their own.
On Tuesday, the clinic tweeted, then deleted, a message that it informed Pence of its masking policy prior to his arrival in Rochester. It later issued a statement confirming it informed Pence’s office of the policy.
President Trump announced on April 3 the new CDC guidance encouraging the use of masks to try to cut down on the spread of the coronavirus, particularly from those who may be asymptomatic. But Trump, Pence and other top administration officials have seldom been seen wearing face coverings in public settings.