Gov. Tim Walz to join Vice President Mike Pence on tour of Mayo Clinic

The VP is flying into Minnesota on Tuesday.
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Vice President Mike Pence is paying his latest visit to Minnesota on Tuesday, and will be joined by Gov. Tim Walz as they take a tour of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Walz's office has confirmed the governor will walk the vice president through Minnesota's testing strategy, of which the Mayo Clinic is a crucial part.

Thanks to the Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota's testing capacity, Walz announced last week that Minnesota will soon have the ability to test everyone who displays symptoms of the coronavirus.

Testing has already increased to more than 2,000-a-day since the announcement was made, and that number will continue to rise until health systems across the state are able to conduct 20,000 a day.

Pence, who was tasked with leading the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak, was in Minnesota last month when he visited 3M in Maplewood to check out their personal protective equipment making capability.

Ahead of his visit, Pence tweeted: "Tomorrow, I will be visiting Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where they are leading the way on testing for the coronavirus in the United States."

On Tuesday, both Pence and Gov. Walz will take part in a roundtable discussion, tour the testing facilities at the Mayo, and take media questions.

While he has stopped short of outright criticism of the Trump Administration, striking a cordial tone with the president following a recent phone call they had, Walz has previously lamented the lack of federal coordination in response to COVID-19, particularly in the area of making testing kits and PPE available.

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Minnesota is only now able to ramp up its tests because the Mayo and U of M have been able to develop testing procedures that don't require some of the same supplies that other states have been competing for.

This has prompted the Minnesota DFL to issues a rebuke of Pence prior to his visit, alleging that his visit as "papering over the Trump-Pence administration's failings and to try taking credit for Governor Walz’s leadership in this time of national crisis."

It cites an interview given by University of Minnesota Director of the Center of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Michael Osterholm, who says the FDA has "all but given up its oversight responsibility for the tests we have on the market," describing some of the tests as "nothing short of a disaster."

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