U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, stands with his wife, Karen, after casting his ballot for the upcoming election at a polling station in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. October 23, 2020.
Bryan Woolston | Reuters
Vice President Mike Pence will not quarantine himself despite several of his aides testing positive for coronavirus, his office said.
Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short is isolating after testing positive on Saturday, Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the vice president, said in a statement. A senior political advisor to the vice president, Marty Obst, and at least three other aides also tested positive, according to NBC News.
O’Malley said in a statement late Saturday that Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative and “remain in good health.”
“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,” O’Malley said.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows declined to say how many individuals connected to the vice president’s office have tested positive when pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday morning.
Meadows said that he would not disclose personal information “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.”
He also said: “We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
The cluster of cases near the vice president comes at a perilous time politically: nine days before the presidential election.
President Donald Trump was hospitalized for Covid-19 earlier this month but has since said he recovered.
On Monday, Pence is expected to be on the Senate floor for the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. At a rally in Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday evening, Pence said he “wouldn’t miss that vote for the world.”
Barrett’s confirmation, now seemingly assured, was put in jeopardy after three Republican senators contracted the virus.
Two of those lawmakers — Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina — attended Barrett’s White House nomination ceremony last month, which was later connected to at least eight cases.
At 61, Pence is at elevated risk for severe illness from Covid-19 because of his age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the greatest risk is to those 85 and older.