Mul­ti­ple Pence aides test pos­i­tive for coro­n­avirus

Vice pres­i­dent sticks to sched­ule de­spite con­tact

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS CORO­N­AVIRUS PAN­DEMIC - Mau­reen Groppe Con­tribut­ing: Matthew Brown

WASH­ING­TON – Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, tested pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus Satur­day, Pence’s spokesman said in a state­ment Satur­day night af­ter re­ports that an­other se­nior ad­viser had also tested pos­i­tive.

The New York Times and CNN re­ported that an ad­di­tional Pence aide had tested pos­i­tive for the virus, bring­ing the to­tal to at least three. The Times re­ported as many as five close as­so­ciates to the vice pres­i­dent have tested pos­i­tive .

Short be­gan iso­lat­ing Satur­day and as­sist­ing in the con­tact trac­ing process, ac­cord­ing to Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley.

Pence and his wife, Karen, tested neg­a­tive Satur­day, and Pence is not cur­tail­ing his move­ments de­spite hav­ing been in close con­tact with Short.

“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 in the state­ment.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who con­tracted the virus about three weeks ago, briefly com­mented to re­porters af­ter re­turn­ing from the cam­paign trail early Sunday morn­ing.

“He’s go­ing to be fine,” Trump said of Short when he ex­ited Air Force One. “But he’s quar­an­tin­ing.”

Pence is head of the White House’s coro­n­avirus task force.

Pence was in the mid­dle of his sec­ond cam­paign rally in Florida on Satur­day when Bloomberg re­ported that Marty Obst, his out­side se­nior po­lit­i­cal ad­viser, had tested pos­i­tive.

Bloomberg said it wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear whether Obst had de­vel­oped symp­toms of COVID-19.

CNN re­ported that Obst tested pos­i­tive ear­lier in the week.

Obst did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Obst and Short of­ten travel with Pence.

Short, but not Obst, trav­eled with Pence to In­di­ana on Thurs­day and in­ter­acted with the sup­port­ers who came out for Pence’s rally in Fort Wayne.

Short did not travel with Pence to Florida on Satur­day. Aides who had been in close con­tact with Short were pulled from the trip be­fore de­par­ture.

Katie Miller, Pence’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, con­tracted the virus in May.

Pence has had a heavy trav­el­ing sched­ule, mak­ing at least one cam­paign stop most days this month.

“When Joe Bi­den is talk­ing about shut­ting down our economy, we are open­ing up Amer­ica again,” Pence said in Lake­land, Florida, be­fore his sec­ond rally in Tal­la­has­see.

He was trav­el­ing to Kin­ston, North Carolina, on Sunday.

Karen Pence is head­lin­ing an event in New Hill, North Carolina, on Mon­day. On Tues­day, the vice pres­i­dent is sched­uled to travel to Greens­boro, North Carolina, and Greenville, South Carolina.

Dur­ing the vice pres­i­den­tial de­bate this month, Pence was asked how the ad­min­is­tra­tion can ex­pect Amer­i­cans to fol­low COVID-19 safety guide­lines when those at the White House haven’t done so.

Pence said he and Trump trust peo­ple to make choices that are in the best in­ter­est of their health.

“Joe Bi­den and Ka­mala Har­ris con­sis­tently talk about man­dates,” Pence said. “We’re about free­dom and re­spect­ing the free­dom of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

STEVE CAN­NON/AP

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence speak­ing Satur­day in Tal­la­has­see, Fla., won’t cur­tail his sched­ule de­spite be­ing in con­tact with Short.

PA­TRICK SEMANSKY/AP

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, tested pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus Satur­day.

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