SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Mike Pence's irrational fear of masks

Article Image

Participants at a food supply roundtable convened by Vice President Mike Pence in Iowa removed their face masks before Pence arrived, according to video from the event posted online.

Posted: May 12, 2020 12:11 PM
Updated: May 12, 2020 12:11 PM

In his public career, Vice President Mike Pence has stressed the power of prayer and been a skeptic about science.

At one point, he said that smoking doesn't kill and he refused to acknowledge the vast evidence that the planet is warming at an alarming rate that imperils us all. Now, in the age of pandemic, he is publicly running around without a face mask and insisting that it's OK for others remove theirs. In Pence's world (or maybe it's President Donald Trump's world) it seems that real Americans cough, sneeze and breathe free.

Let's be clear about the science behind the federal recommendation that everyone wear a mask in public settings, where social distancing is hard to maintain.

It is based on simple logic. When you wear a mask, you are protecting others because you may have picked-up the Covid-19 virus without knowing it. It's better to cover-up than to potentially kill someone with germs you might spread.

Just before Pence made an appearance for a roundtable discussion with five food industry executives in Iowa on Friday, a White House staffer told the executives that they could remove their masks before Pence made an appearance if they wanted to. CNN, citing a source familiar with the situation, reported that the aide "didn't ask and she didn't tell" them to do so. The source also noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines that masks are not necessary if people can maintain a distance of 6 feet.

Although the staff member may not have forced anyone, it's safe to bet that perhaps the executives felt some pressure. First, who says no to a suggestion made by someone from the White House? Second, this is an administration that has been quite open about its disdain for medically and scientifically sound advice. Even the two execs who run meatpacking plants where hundreds of workers have been infected removed their masks.

Prior to this Iowa trip, Pence had learned that his aide Katie Miller tested positive for the virus.

One would think that even if everyone was able to remain 6 feet apart during the roundtable discussion that everyone would just exercise a bit of extra precaution. After all, what could it hurt to wear the masks?

Rarely have so many seemingly intelligent leaders opted to abandon reason so publicly for something so deadly as the right to spread a killer germ.

The revelation over Miller had prompted drama on the runway at Joint Base Andrews, where Air Force Two was delayed from taking off, so six people who had interacted with Miller could deplane. Everyone else stayed aboard and jetted off to Iowa where Covid-19 cases are spiking.

As they traveled in the state, Yahoo News reported that a Department of Homeland Security document revealed that 11 Secret Service agents had also tested positive (CNN has independently confirmed the news).

As Trump confirmed, Pence had himself been in contact with Miller.

Given the fact that hardly anyone at the White House uses a mask and the close quarters in the old building, it should be assumed that lots of folks got near enough to Miller to risk becoming infected by the virus without knowing it.

And it was with all of these variables in play that the vice president still decided to meet with executives -- who worked inside Covid-19 hotspots -- and have a staffer tell them that it was OK to remove their masks.

Prior to his meeting with food execs, Pence met with religious leaders and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has loosened statewide restrictions on religious public gatherings as long as they "implement reasonable public health measures under the circumstances of each gathering to ensure social distancing...(and) increased hygiene practices...," according to a new proclamation in Iowa's public health emergency declaration from Reynolds.

Although the governor did "strongly encourage" those who are more susceptible to severe and deadly outcomes of the virus to limit their activities outside of their home, the move still means that religious services, and the contagious interactions that permit, can resume. Imagine what could happen if a young and healthy member of a household that, for example, consists of a grandparent, went to a church service where members were asymptomatic and then brought the virus back home.

But this possibility seemed not to be at the forefront of Pence's mind, as he spoke with the religious leaders.

It may have been, as Pence said, a "burden" for some to attend religious services online. But that he would describe this inconvenience as "a source of heartache for people across the country" when American families are losing loved ones to Covid-19 at a rate of more than 1,000 per day is profane.

The Iowa trip was just another example of the vice president, ever Trump's lackey, being right in step with his boss' tone deafness on the issue.

Consider last week's public relations stunt that had Pence delivering a few boxes of personal protective equipment -- without wearing a mask -- to a nursing home that had Covid-19 patients.

More than one million of the citizens Pence serves have received a terrifying positive test result. Thousands more get the bad news every day.

His own press aide, someone he knows well, is in quarantine. Why, in the face of this overwhelming and immediate danger, would he and the president persist in flaunting unsafe behavior and spreading deadly thinking across the land?

The answer is that pandemic denial has become, like climate change denial, a culture war fetish. Just like the automatic weapons brandished by some of those protesting stay-at-home orders, bare-faced public appearances tell the world that you consider the right to infect others a freedom that must not be abridged.

One can accept that people who have lost employment and are in desperate financial straits, might be moved to extremes in their desire for a return to the pre-pandemic order. A sensible leader, especially one who might actually capture the attention of these angry people, would offer them reliable facts, send immediate and substantial financial help -- and put on a mask.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 39133

Reported Deaths: 1514
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12597787
Ramsey4963229
Dakota242192
Stearns241419
Anoka2266109
Nobles16726
Olmsted114715
Washington113740
Mower9602
Rice8488
Scott7624
Clay59138
Kandiyohi5781
Blue Earth4942
Wright4835
Todd4012
Carver3951
Lyon3272
Sherburne3255
Freeborn2970
Watonwan2380
Steele2371
Benton2203
St. Louis19615
Nicollet17312
Martin1715
Cottonwood1360
Goodhue1318
Winona12915
Crow Wing10812
Le Sueur1081
Pine1070
Chisago1021
Otter Tail1001
McLeod920
Dodge880
Carlton870
Unassigned8537
Polk822
Chippewa791
Isanti750
Waseca710
Douglas650
Murray650
Itasca6412
Meeker611
Morrison611
Faribault600
Pipestone592
Becker570
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington520
Renville362
Beltrami340
Brown342
Mille Lacs342
Wabasha330
Rock310
Fillmore300
Yellow Medicine300
Houston270
Swift221
Wilkin213
Norman200
Redwood190
Koochiching181
Grant170
Roseau170
Cass162
Aitkin150
Big Stone150
Kanabec151
Wadena150
Marshall120
Pope120
Lincoln100
Mahnomen101
Clearwater90
Hubbard80
Lake60
Stevens50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32064

Reported Deaths: 731
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6739181
Woodbury326044
Black Hawk232358
Buena Vista171911
Johnson13408
Linn130482
Dallas129129
Marshall106019
Scott84510
Story8063
Pottawattamie74512
Dubuque74222
Wapello70830
Crawford6783
Muscatine64944
Sioux4810
Tama46829
Wright3851
Louisa36313
Jasper32517
Plymouth3245
Warren2911
Dickinson2663
Webster2484
Washington2459
Cerro Gordo1901
Hamilton1891
Boone1501
Clay1370
Allamakee1334
Clarke1333
Mahaska11717
Shelby1170
Clinton1131
Poweshiek1078
Carroll991
Pocahontas981
Bremer957
Franklin950
Des Moines912
Emmet870
Henry863
Cedar851
Hardin810
Taylor800
Monona770
Cherokee761
Floyd732
Marion710
Benton681
Guthrie684
Jones640
Sac640
Jefferson620
Osceola620
Buchanan601
Butler592
Hancock551
Humboldt551
Calhoun542
Harrison540
Lee542
Iowa530
Delaware511
Monroe517
Fayette500
Madison482
Lyon450
Clayton443
Davis411
Mitchell410
Palo Alto410
Grundy400
Mills390
Winneshiek390
Kossuth360
Howard340
Jackson340
Union340
Lucas314
Chickasaw290
Greene290
Winnebago290
Cass240
Ida230
Appanoose213
Keokuk211
Van Buren210
Page200
Worth200
Adair160
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Ringgold150
Decatur120
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont80
Rochester
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 94°
Mason City
Few Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 99°
Albert Lea
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
Charles City
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 96°
Heat Advisory in effect until 7pm
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Free masks in Rochester

Image

Boys & Girls Club back open

Image

Rochester Elementary School releases plans

Image

Working in the heat

Image

Potential job cuts for Austin city employees

Image

Free memory screenings being offered during pandemic

Image

1K Mile March: Alabama to Minneapolis

Image

Changes being considered to city fireworks ordinance

Image

'Look Before you Lock' Initiative

Image

Dave's Noon Weather 7/8

Community Events