COLUMBUS, Ohio — Vice President Mike Pence was all smiles on Thursday as he helped introduce the new Lordstown Motors all-electric pickup truck.
He arrived to the stage riding in an 'Endurance' truck, stood up and posed with Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns, then delivered remarks for about 30 minutes.
But Pence, who is also the chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was not seen wearing a mask during his visit to Lordstown Motors.
A short time later in Columbus, Governor Mike DeWine, who did wear a mask during his visit to Lordstown on Wednesday, was asked why he didn't press Pence to do the same.
"He's the Vice President of the United States. I have respect for the office. I'm not going to get on the phone and tell him what to do," DeWine said. "We continue to urge Ohioans to do this (wear a mask), it's the right thing to do and it's the courteous thing to do."
Thursday wasn't the first time that the vice president or a high ranking member of the White House has been seen without a mask in public. Last week, CNN noted that Pence was without a mask during a stop in Iowa. He did not wear a mask at a diner named "Sally's Restaurant" to greet people and was also without a mask when he toured a Winnebago factory.
Pence's visit to Ohio comes as the state experiences a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. In the past 24 hours, 892 confirmed and probable cases were reported by the Ohio Department of Health, the most new cases in a single day excluding a period in which the state was mass testing prisons.
But while Ohio has increased its testing, administering its most tests in a single day on Wednesday, DeWine said that's not the entire reason why the state is seeing its numbers increase.
Other indicators such as a reduction in age of coronavirus patients and an increase in hospitalizations suggest that the virus is continuing to be spread through communities. In March, the average age of coronavirus patients in Ohio was 51-years-old. That average age has since decreased to 42, with almost 60 percent of cases being in the 20-49-year-old range.
"We have increased testing but no analyst that I have talked to believes that the total increase is due to that at all," DeWine said on Thursday.