Masks aren’t on Pence’s list
Vice president’s advice omits use of face masks
In a list of things Americans should do to protect themselves and others against coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence on Friday mentioned everything health officials say Americans should do: hand washing, avoiding touching the face, disinfecting frequently.
He pointedly did not mention two of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s main pieces of advice: wearing face masks and social distancing.
Pence was speaking at the first news conference of the White House Pandemic Task Force has held since April 27. He did not wear a mask during the news conference.
Health officials who were there, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, wore masks except when speaking at the microphone.
Wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing was front and center later on in the news conference when CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield – who wore a mask when he was not at the podium – emphasized both.
“I want to stress and thank all Americans to embrace the importance of social distancing recommendations to slow the spread of COVID. As I’ve said before, we’re not defenseless. These are in fact very powerful weapons, and it’s our collective responsibility to recommit ourselves to put them into routine practice,” he said.
He urged Americans to “stay 6 feet apart from each other as much as possible. To wear face coverings when we’re in public. And to practice vigorous hand hygiene. And to commit to do so to do our part to protect the vulnerable,” he said.
The vice president’s omissions do not fit with the advice coming from the CDC, the nation’s premier public health agency.
In a news conference Thursday, Redfield said: “This pandemic is not over. The most powerful tool that we have, a powerful weapon, is social distancing.”
Asked about whether wearing facial coverings has become politicized, Pence said people should listen to the guidance of their state and local authorities.
Both protective measures have become highly politicized in the United States despite being entirely supported as virus mitigation measures by the science and by public health officials in the United States and globally.
Masks, whether surgery-quality N95s or the handmade variety, are considered a reliable defensive measure against the spread of coronavirus because they prevent those infected from spreading the virus through droplets exiting their mouth and nose.
Wearing masks turned political after President Donald Trump and Pence, who have been pushing for a fast restart of the U.S. economy, did not wear masks in public settings.
Trump has said he will not personally wear masks, and some Republican lawmakers have mocked wearing masks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, right, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a news conference with the Coronavirus task force Friday in Washington, D.C.