CORONAVIRUS

Several Pence Aides, Including Chief Of Staff Marc Short, Test Positive For COVID-19

At least five people close to the vice president have reportedly tested positive in recent days.

At least five aides to Vice President Mike Pence have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days, including his chief of staff, Marc Short.

Short tested positive on Saturday. He is quarantining and will assist in the contact tracing process, Pence’s office said in a statement.

Pence senior political adviser Marty Obst also tested positive earlier this week, The New York Times and CNN reported.

A source told the Times that three other Pence staff members have also tested positive.

Pence has headed the White House’s coronavirus task force since February.

Both the vice president and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative for the coronavirus Saturday and again on Sunday, according to Pence’s office.

Despite the new COVID-19 cases, the vice president intends to continue his campaign schedule. He plans to travel to North Carolina on Sunday.

Even though Short is considered a close contact of Pence, “in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the vice president will maintain his schedule in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for essential personnel,” said Pence’s office. Those guidelines include careful monitoring for symptoms and wearing a mask when near people.

Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University, called Pence’s decision to continue to campaign “grossly negligent.” He “needs to be staying home 14 days,” she told The Associated Press. “Campaign events are not essential.”

Popescu called Pence’s refusal to change his schedule an “insult to everybody who has been working in public health and public health response.” She added: “I also find it really harmful and disrespectful to the people going to the rally” and those on Pence’s own staff who will travel with him.

The nation is currently experiencing a dangerous surge in coronavirus cases. America’s daily COVID-19 case count hit an all-time high of more than 83,000 on Friday.

The cluster of infections in Pence’s office comes just weeks after an outbreak in the White House that included President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and senior adviser Stephen Miller.

Katie Miller, Stephen Miller’s wife and Pence’s press secretary, tested positive for the coronavirus in May.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sought to block news of the outbreak in Pence’s office from going public, two sources told the Times.

Asked about the Times’ report on Sunday, Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper that “sharing personal information is not something we should do unless it’s the president or the vice president” or someone close to them.

Tapper confronted Meadows about Pence’s decision to continue traveling despite having come in contact with several people who have tested positive for the virus.

“CDC guidelines say that Vice President Pence should quarantine for 14 days,” Tapper said. “Now, I understand the White House is trying to get around that by saying the vice president is an essential worker.”

“But Mark, how is going all over the country ... how is that essential work?” Tapper continued. “It’s not like he’s helping to contain the virus. In fact, the opposite: He’s holding rallies that could be spreading the virus.”

Meadows defended Pence’s continued travel by saying the vice president is both campaigning and working.

“I can tell you that what he’s doing is wearing a mask, socially distancing and, when he goes up to speak, he will take the mask off, put it back on,” Meadows said. “He’s wearing a mask as it relates to this particular thing because the doctors have advised him to do that.”


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