October 26, 2020 -- Several members of Vice President Mike Pence’s inner circle have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last few days, including his chief of staff Marc Short.
According to The New York Times, Short received a positive result on Saturday, the newspaper reported, and other aides received their results earlier this week but didn’t share details with the public. Pence will continue his normal activities, Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for Pence, told the newspaper.
“Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for Covid-19 today, and remain in good health,” he said. “While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the vice president will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”
Marty Obst, a Pence adviser, tested positive earlier in the week, according to Bloomberg News. Short and Obst have developed mild symptoms of COVID-19.
Three additional staff members have tested positive, the news outlets reported, but spokespeople haven’t confirmed the details.
“It’s personal information,” Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, said Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“It’s not something we usually do, unless it’s the vice president or the president, or someone that’s very close to them, where there’s people in harm’s way,” Meadows said.
The development raises questions about White House policy on coronavirus safety measures, particularly since Pence is head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The administration declined to conduct contact tracing among guests at the Sept. 26 Rose Garden celebration for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, which was linked to an outbreak of two dozen cases.
At campaign rallies during the weekend, Trump has repeated his statement that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” on the coronavirus.
However, the country has reported a record high in cases during the past week, as well as an increase in hospitalizations. A record 83,000 daily cases were reported on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
"We are not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said on Sunday morning. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”