Health professionals, lawmakers and celebrities condemned the move.
Pence later explained that he’s regularly tested for the coronavirus and thought touring the hospital without a mask was “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.”
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist who treated former Vice President Dick Cheney, described Pence’s decision as “so wrong, so tone-deaf” and another instance of a White House mixed message amid the public health crisis that has killed more than 59,000 people nationwide.
CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said there was “no question” that Pence should have worn a mask, saying it would have been “a good example.”
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, meanwhile, called Pence a “coronavirus truther” and a “mask truther.”
“Forget that he’s the vice president. This is the kind of human that repels me at the supermarket or the Walmart,” she said. “I don’t want to be that close to anybody while we’re still at this phase of a pandemic.”
Wallace said Trump and Pence have “revealed themselves as this wacky combination of conspiracy theorists, quack medical proponents, and truthers.”
“He either doesn’t believe that the mask is keeping people safe, or he doesn’t think that rule applies to him,” she added.
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