America erupts over virus photo
US Vice President Mike Pence has caused a storm of controversy on Twitter after refusing to wear a mask as he toured America's famed Mayo Clinic.
The hospital has a COVID-19 policy that all visitors cover their faces and Pence was the only person in a room of staff and patients not wearing a mask.
Pence, who is head of the US Coronavirus Task Force, greeted hospital staff with an elbow bump and met a patient at the clinic in Rochester, Minnesota on Tuesday.
But he walked around a ward smiling and seemingly oblivious to the fact he was the odd one out.
His actions have been mocked and derided on Twitter, with one person claiming the Mayo Clinic had since "deleted a tweet pointing out they had told @VP about masks".
CNN reported Pence told journalists he didn't wear a face mask while touring the clinic "because he's tested for coronavirus regularly".
Political commentator Edward Hardy tweeted "Mike Pence says he didn't wear a mask during his visit to the Mayo Clinic because he wanted to be able to look healthcare workers in the eye and thank them. How does he normally wear his mask? Like a blindfold?"
One woman said on Twitter: "Perhaps @VP is wearing 'an invisible mask' to avoid 'the invisible enemy?' Or maybe it's 'a miracle' and he thinks he's protected."
Another wrote "Everyone is wearing a face mask in this photo. Except one. So who's the dummy? Yet who's in charge? Sad."
Other Twitter users claimed the vice president had risked the health of patients or accused him of having a disregard for human life.
"Dear @VP Mike Pence," one posted, "The mask is not to protect you, it's to protect the patients at the Mayo Clinic. You had no right to violate hospital policy and put others at risk."
Another Twitter user wrote: "Worried mother would disapprove his pretty boy look being covered up? That's his only use, like a fashion doll, and when he's behind 45, a bobbing head doll."
Everyone’s has a mask on but The Vice President of the United States of America Mike Pence this shows true ignorance over 50,000 Americans have died...,and counting— Timmy GaGa (@GagaTimmy) April 28, 2020
Twitter user Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted: "Where is Mike Pence's face mask? Everyone else has one on: Doctors, Patient, FDA Commissioner".
Timmy Gaga tweeted: "Everyone's has a mask on but The Vice President of the United States of America Mike Pence.
"This shows true ignorance over 50,000 Americans have died … and counting."
The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has reached one million - putting it around five times ahead of the next hardest-hit countries.
The cases doubled in just 18 days and now comprise one-third of all infections in the world.
More than 56,000 Americans have died, an average of around 2000 a day, according to a Reuters tally.
The time in took for the national US cases to double compares with the 80 days it took for the US to first reach 500,000 cases.
Originally published as America erupts over virus photo
Mike Pence refused to wear a mask on Tuesday as he toured the Mayo Clinic and met with hospital staff and a patient, rejecting the famed hospital’s policy that all visitors cover their faces to reduce #Covid-19 risks https://t.co/kI5MRBkA4f pic.twitter.com/oUkhXI232i— POLITICO (@politico) April 28, 2020
Everyone is wearing a face mask in this photo.— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) April 28, 2020
So who's the dummy?
Yet who's in charge?
Mike Pence says he didn't wear a mask during his visit to the Mayo Clinic because he wanted to be able to look healthcare workers in the eye and thank them— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) April 28, 2020
How does he normally wear his mask? Like a blindfold?