ANKARA 

US Vice President Mike Pence has unleashed a storm on social media after he was seen on Tuesday violating the mask protocols of a private hospital in Minnesota.

Pence, the head of White House Coronavirus Task Force, was the only person who chose not to wear a mask, despite warnings from the Mayo Clinic officials and its policy requiring them.

Videos circulating in the local and social media showed the unprotected US vice president meeting with a hospital employee who has recovered from COVID-19, and maskless again when he visited one of its lab where coronavirus tests were conducted.

He later joined a roundtable discussion with officials from the medical center, standing out as the only person to go unmasked.

The hospital tweeted that it had informed him of its mask policy prior to his arrival. The tweet was later removed.

Thousands of people have slammed Pence and the hospital officials for allowing him on the premises without required protection at a time when the US remains to be the epicenter of the coronavirus with nearly one-third off all infection cases globally and one-fourth of deaths.

Pence for his part said: “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 health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you.”

Pence was picked by US President Donald Trump as a running mate for 2016 presidential campaign mainly due to his deep connection to the evangelical Catholic base in the country.

“I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican — in that order,” he told a crowd of evangelicals in Iowa in January, a voting bloc Trump must get along if he is to be reelected in November 2020.

Reckless move from Trump’s vice president came on the same day with an Emerson College poll that revealed a whooping 10% drop in approval of the US president’s handling of the pandemic.

The poll, conducted on April 26-28 with 1,200 Americans, found that 51% disapproved of the president’s handling of the virus, a jump from 41% in March.

According to data from the US-based Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 1M coronavirus infection cases in the US and over 58,300 deaths.

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