David Letterman told Howard Stern during the April 28 episode of his podcast that he was “disgusted” to see Vice President Mike Pence visit sick COVID-19 patients at the Mayo Clinic. The famed hospital, located in Rochester, Minnesota, requires all visitors to wear protective face masks in order to avoid spreading the coronavirus further. Despite being the leader of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, Pence defied the rule by walking through the hospital unprotected and standing directly at COVID-19 patients’ bedsides. Letterman, 73, said on Howard Stern that he knew fans didn’t generally like when he spoke about politics, but he couldn’t ignore this blunder.
“Now if you go to the Mayo Clinic because you have COVID-19, you really have it,” Letterman said. “[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.” He called Pence’s behavior “particularly a thorn in my side” because the VP, 60, used to be the governor of his home state, Indiana. Letterman’s close friend and longtime The Late Show bandleader Paul Shaffer‘s wife, Cathy Vasapoli, is also sick with COVID-19.
Pence was roundly lambasted after his April 28 Mayo Clinic visit for refusing to wear a mask, despite literally every other person at the hospital, including his aides and Secret Service detail, doing so. The VP defended his actions, telling reporters that he had been tested regularly for COVID-19, and did not have it. He added that he wanted to “look [the healthcare personnel] in the eye and say thank you.”
The Mayo Clinic tweeted after the visit that they “had informed @VP of the masking policy prior to his arrival today.” It was deleted 30 minutes later. The account then tweeted, “We are grateful that @VP and @GovTimWalz visited Mayo Clinic today to hear about our work fighting the #COVID19 pandemic. We look forward to continued collaboration to develop essential testing and treatment for our patients and communities.”
The CDC has also advised that everyone should wear a mask while in public, no matter where they are. Pence was not wearing a mask when he got off his flight in Minnesota and headed to the hospital. President Trump previously said in one of his coronavirus press briefings that he would not wear a mask, despite the CDC suggestion. Letterman joked that it was just because his aides couldn’t figure out how to attach it to his hair.
Stern made headlines earlier in the week when he endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president. “You see the wall that’s right next to you, I’ll vote for the wall over a guy who tells me that I should pour Clorox into my mouth,” the radio host said.