ORLANDO, Fla — It’s a direct response to an urgent need.
America’s nursing homes have become the front line of the war against COVID-19, and the casualties are mounting. So, earlier this month, the White House Coronavirus Task Force ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to send 14-day supplies of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment to 15,000 facilities nationwide.
According to FEMA, the deliveries will arrive in two shipments, and the first one should already be on its way. During a press event Wednesday at an Orlando nursing home, Vice President Mike Pence announced that 15,400 nursing homes across the country received PPE equipment.
Vice President Pence was at the nursing home to hand-deliver a shipment of the PPE before sitting down for a roundtable discussion with Governor DeSantis and leaders of the hospitality and tourism industry.
This comes after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said reopening nursing homes to visitors was a priority – as long as it can be done safely.
When Air Force Two touched down in Orlando, the vice president was not wearing a mask when he disembarked from the plane. But, when he arrived at the nursing home, both he and Governor Ron DeSantis were wearing masks as they met with doctors and spoke to nursing home residents and staff.
When he addressed the media with DeSantis a few minutes later, he removed the mask.
The decision to wear a mask in Florida marked a change because during a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last month, the vice president chose not to cover his face while meeting with a recovered patient and touring a lab where the hospital conducts coronavirus tests.
As the controversy spread, the Mayo Clinic confirmed on Twitter that Pence had been informed of the hospital’s mandatory mask policy.
“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,” Pence told reporters at the time, saying he is following CDC guidelines which indicate that masks are good for preventing the spread of the virus by those who have it.
“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.”
The vice president’s press secretary later tested positive for COVID-19. Katie Miller was the second person in Pence’s orbit to contract the virus in a week.
A day earlier, the White House has confirmed a member of the military who serves as one of President Trump’s valets tested positive.
The president told reporters on Monday he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine – an anti-malaria drug that he promoted as an unproven treatment for the coronavirus – in case he contracts COVID-19.
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