Pence wears face mask during tour of General Motors plant

Vice President Pence on Thursday donned a face mask as he toured a General Motors plant in Indiana, marking the first time he's worn a mask on camera. 

It came just days after he defended his decision not to wear one in defiance of the Mayo Clinic's policy on a visit to Minnesota.

The vice president was joined by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoDemocrats to probe Trump's replacement of top Transportation Dept. watchdog OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump orders cuts in regulations that 'inhibit economic recovery' | Green group calls for Energy secretary to step down over 'redlining' comment | Daily carbon emissions drop 17 percent Trump orders agencies to cut regulations that 'inhibit economic recovery' MORE and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) on the trip to the GM plant. All wore masks during the tour of the facility, which has been converted to produce ventilators.

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"You’re making a difference for America,” Pence told one employee, flashing a thumbs-up to others.

Pence and other officials, including GM leaders, removed their masks during a roundtable event following the tour of the factory floor.

GM brought employees back to the Kokomo, Ind., plant earlier this month to ramp up production of ventilators needed to help treat those with coronavirus. The facility has already produced thousands of the machines, which have been distributed to hospitals in need.

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The company has a policy that requires all workers to wear medical-grade protective masks during their shifts, though it does not specify whether visitors should wear masks.

Still, Pence's decision to do so was notable given he had declined to wear one two days earlier during a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

The vice president defended his decision at the time, saying that CDC guidance on masks is meant to prevent those with the virus from spreading it. Because he is tested regularly and was aware he was negative for the virus, he reasoned the mask was not necessary.

Second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceOVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey Karen Pence urges people to return to reopening Great Smoky Mountains National Park Pence says he should have worn mask during Mayo Clinic visit MORE reiterated that argument on Thursday, further asserting that the vice president did not know the Mayo Clinic had a policy requiring masks until after he left.

The Mayo Clinic issued guidance on April 13 requiring all patients and visitors to wear a face covering or mask in accordance with updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The clinic said it would provide masks for those who did not bring their own.

On Tuesday, the clinic tweeted, then deleted, a message that it informed Pence of its masking policy prior to his arrival in Rochester. It later issued a statement confirming it informed Pence's office of the policy.

President Trump announced on April 3 the new CDC guidance encouraging the use of masks to try to cut down on the spread of the coronavirus, particularly from those who may be asymptomatic. But Trump, Pence and other top administration officials have seldom been seen wearing face coverings in public settings.

Updated at 3:06 p.m.