Pence Tests Negative for Coronavirus Ahead of Hibbing Rally
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite an apparent outbreak of the coronavirus among his senior aides, the White House says.
Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and “a couple of key staff surrounding the vice president” have tested positive for the virus, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday.
The vice president, who along with his wife, Karen, tested negative on Sunday and again on Monday morning, according to his office, is considered a “close contact” of the aides under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria but will not quarantine, his spokesman said.
“This morning, Vice President Pence and the Second Lady tested negative for COVID-19,” Pence’s office said in a statement on Monday.
Devin O’Malley said Pence decided to maintain his travel schedule “in consultation with the White House Medical Unit” and “in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”
Those guidelines require that essential workers who are exposed to someone with the coronavirus be closely monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 and wear a mask whenever around other people.
Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University, called Pence’s decision to travel “grossly negligent” regardless of the stated justification that Pence is an essential worker.
“It’s just an insult to everybody who has been working in public health and public health response,” she said. “I also find it really harmful and disrespectful to the people going to the rally” and the people on Pence’s own staff who will accompany him.
“He needs to be staying home 14 days,” she added. “Campaign events are not essential.”
After a day of campaigning in Florida on Saturday, Pence was seen wearing a mask as he returned to Washington aboard Air Force Two shortly after the news of Short’s diagnosis was made public.
He is scheduled to hold a rally on Sunday afternoon in Kinston, North Carolina, with travel planned to Minnesota on Monday and North Carolina once again on Tuesday.
Fox 21 will be live streaming the Pence rally event in Hibbing at 1:00 p.m. on our Facebook page and on our website.