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 two other aides also tested positive, according to NBC News.
O’Malley said in a statement issued late on Saturday that Pence and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative and “remain in good health.” Pence is expected to hold a rally in Kinston, North Carolina later on Sunday. The battleground state is neck-and-neck with state polls on average showing Democratic nominee Joe Biden ahead by just over one percentage point. “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. 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.” The cluster of cases near the vice president comes at a perilous time politically. The election between President Donald Trump and Biden, the former vice president, will take place in nine days. 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 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.
Pence, who is 61, 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.