Pence bucks Mayo Clinic's mandatory mask policy during visit

US Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday opted not to wear a face mask during a visit to the Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota, bucking the organisation's mandatory masking policy amid the pandemic.

Video showed Pence, whose face was fully exposed, surrounded by masked staff members and a masked patient while touring the clinic. It wasn't immediately clear whether the patient was infected with the coronavirus.

The Mayo Clinic informed Pence of the masking policy prior to his visit, the organisation tweeted on Tuesday. The tweet has since been deleted, but the clinic confirmed to HuffPost that it shared the masking policy with the vice president's office.

Wall Street Journal reporter Gordon Lubold, who was present for the vice president's visit, tweeted that the clinic made it clear that everyone should wear a mask.

The clinic's website states that all patients, visitors and staff are required to wear a mask on campus in an effort to curb the contagion.

"Please bring your own face mask or covering to wear," the website states.

Neither Pence's office nor the Mayo Clinic immediately responded to HuffPost's requests for comment.

Pence defended his choice, however, while speaking to White House pool reporters Tuesday afternoon.

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Mike Pence visits Mayo Clinic
Vice President Mike Pence visits the molecular testing lab at Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., where he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Vice President Mike Pence, center, visits Dennis Nelson, a patient who survived the coronavirus and was going to give blood, during a tour of the Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., as he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. Pence chose not to wear a face mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It's an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical center's policy requiring them. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Vice President Mike Pence, left, visits the Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., where he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. Pence chose not to wear a face mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It's an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical center's policy requiring them. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, second from right, greets Vice President Mike Pence with an elbow bump as he arrives for a visit to the Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., where he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. Looking on is Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Vice President Mike Pence, center, visits the molecular testing lab at Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., where he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Vice President Mike Pence visits the molecular testing lab at Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., where he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. Pence chose not to wear a face mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It's an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical center's policy requiring them. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Vice President Mike Pence, center, elbow bumps, Dr. Michael Joiner as Dennis Nelson, right, who survived the coronavirus, listens during Pence's visit to the Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., where he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. Pence chose not to wear a face mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It's an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical center's policy requiring them. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Vice President Mike Pence visits the molecular testing lab at Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., where he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. Pence chose not to wear a face mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It's an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical center's policy requiring them. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Vice President Mike Pence visits the molecular testing lab at Mayo Clinic Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Rochester, Minn., where he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. Pence chose not to wear a face mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It's an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical center's policy requiring them. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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"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.

"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."

President Donald Trump earlier this month announced guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommended people wear cloth face masks in public settings where social distancing may be difficult to maintain.

Trump, however, said that he did not plan to follow the guidance.

"I don't think I'm going to be doing it," Trump said during a news briefing at the White House on April 3. "Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I just don't see it."

- This article first appeared on HuffPost

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