Pence RNC Crowd Shirks Masks Weeks After VP Said They Slow Virus Spread

Those gathered to watch Mike Pence's Republican National Convention speech largely shirked wearing face masks despite the vice president having touted how they slow the spread of coronavirus just weeks ago.

Pence addressed a crowd in person at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, among which only a few were seen to be wearing masks.

While they sat during his speech, spaced apart, attendees were seen shoulder-to-shoulder as they mingled and posed for photos afterwards.

The VP was seen shaking hands with one attendee and fist bumping another. He was not wearing a mask himself as he greeted members of the crowd.

During his speech, Pence defended the Trump administration's response to the COVID-19 crisis and said America is a "nation of miracles," as he spoke of his optimism that a coronavirus vaccine will be produced in the United States by year end.

He mourned the loss of loved ones across the country, while praising "doctors, nurses, first responders, farmers, factory workers, truckers and everyday Americans" for their work throughout the pandemic—which he labeled "nothing short of heroic."

"Thanks to the courage and compassion of the American people, we are slowing the spread," he said.

Previously commenting on the spread of coronavirus, Pence has spoken of face masks as being a way to slow down the transmission.

In remarks at the end of June, given in Texas, he said people should "wear a mask, wherever it's indicated, or wherever you're not able to practice the kind of social distancing that would prevent the spread of the coronavirus."

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Mike Pence accepts the vice presidential nomination during the Republican National Convention from Fort McHenry National Monument on August 26, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At the time he said we encourage "everyone to wear a mask in the affected areas," referring to areas where officials have directed their use.

Expanding on this, he said: "Where you can't maintain social distancing, wearing a mask is just a good idea. And it will we know, from experience, will slow the spread of the coronavirus."

Newsweek has contacted the vice president's office, RNC organizers and the Trump campaign for comment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has consistently advocated the use of masks to slow the spread of coronavirus.

CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield described cloth face coverings as "one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus."

The CDC said in a news release in July there is "increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others."

There have been more than 5.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases across the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

The graphic below, from Statista, shows the nations which had the highest numbers of confirmed cases as of August 24.

covid-19 cases world
Statista