Apr 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pence wears face mask during GM visit after Mayo Clinic backlash

Screenshot: MSNBC.

Vice President Mike Pence wore a face mask while touring a General Motors plant in Kokomo, Indiana, on Thursday, after coming under fire for flouting the Mayo Clinic's mandatory face mask policy during a visit on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the first time that Pence, who has traveled all over the country as head of the White House's coronavirus task force, has publicly worn a face mask. The CDC issued guidance this month recommending that Americans wear face coverings to help stop the asymptomatic spread of the coronavirus.

  • Pence told reporters amid backlash on Tuesday that he had tested negative for the virus: "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 healthcare personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you," he said.
  • Second lady Karen Pence insisted on Fox News on Thursday morning that Pence only found about the Mayo Clinic's policy after leaving the facility, despite the clinic saying in a statement that it had informed his office beforehand.

The big picture: The plant that Pence toured on Thursday was brought back online to help ramp up the production of ventilators. GM and its partner, Ventec Life Systems, have said they will ship more than 600 ventilators this month, and almost 15,000 by the end of June.

Go deeper

Mitch McConnell: There's no stigma attached to wearing a mask

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell puts on a mask after speaking to the press on Capitol Hill on May 19. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday encouraged people to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic, hours before the U.S. COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000, per Politico.

Why it matters: President Trump has been resisted wearing face coverings in public and ridiculed Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden for doing so this week. But McConnell reportedly sided with CDC guidelines during a Kentucky event to deliver his message to young people. "There's no stigma attached to wearing a mask," he said, per Politico. "There’s no stigma attached to staying six feet apart." McConnell has also taken to posting images to Instagram in recent days of himself wearing a mask.

Go deeper: CDC issues guidelines for reopening offices: Masks, handshake bans and more

13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

About 40.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, including 2.1 million more claims filed from last week.

Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

Pence press secretary returns to work after beating coronavirus

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, announced on Twitter Tuesday that she is returning to work after contracting the coronavirus earlier this month, saying she has tested negative for the virus three times.

Why it matters: Miller's illness sparked fears that Pence or President Trump could have been exposed to the virus, as she is in close contact with both men.