David Letterman Accuses Pence ‘Taunting’ Coronavirus Patients by Not Wearing Mask

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Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for The New Yorker

Former Late Show host David Letterman on Wednesday accused Vice President Mike Pence of “taunting” coronavirus-stricken patients by not wearing a mask during a Tuesday visit to the Mayo.

“Now if you go to the Mayo Clinic because you have COVID-19, you really have it,” Letterman told SiriusXM host Howard Stern. “[Pence] takes time off from his gig as a mannequin, and he’s walking around without a mask taunting these poor people who are bedridden and wearing a mask. To me, that is just taunting people who are ill, to see that guy walking around in his $40 suit walking around in the Mayo Clinic without a mask.”

David Letterman added that Pence’s decision not to wear a mask was “particularly a thorn in my side” because the vice president previously served as the governor of Indiana, the home state of the former late-night host.

Letterman’s appearance on Stern’s eponymous radio program comes after the shock jock attracted scorn for blasting President Donald Trump’s comments about disinfections and the coronavirus and suggesting his supporters kill themselves by drinking disinfectant.

Despite the world-renowned medical center’s policy requiring masks to be worn, Pence opted against donning one as he toured the Rochester, Minnesota, facility with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) head Stephen Hahn, Gov. Tim Walz (D) and Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R).

The move by Pence prompted outcry from other high-profile Hollywood celebrities, including singer and actress Barbra Streisand, filmmaker Judd Apatow.

“Pence was warned to wear a mask during a tour of the Mayo Clinic and refused. Do he and Trump think they’re invincible or is Pence afraid of Trump? What terrible role models for our nation,” Streisand wrote on Twitter.

Apatow fumed: “What person sees this and isn’t disgusted? If they do not lose in a landslide our country has lost its mind. It’s not just about him getting sick, it’s about him getting other people sick. If he isn’t following guidelines he has a higher chance of catching the virus.”

In response to the outrage, Pence issued a statement explaining that he did not require a mask as he has repeatedly tested negative for the coronavirus.

“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,” said Pence. “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.’”

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