WASHINGTON – A member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff has tested positive for coronavirus but was not in close contact with Pence or the president, the White House said Friday.
The case marks the first such infection within the top rungs of the administration.
Katie Miller, a spokeswoman for Pence, did not identify the staffer, nor did she say specifically where the individual worked. Pence is leading the administration’s coronavirus task force and has been a regular presence at the president’s side in recent weeks.
“This evening we were notified that a member of the Office of the Vice President tested positive for the Coronavirus,” Miller said in statement. “Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual.”
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Miller said contact tracing was being conducted in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pence said Monday that he had not been tested for the virus. Trump was tested and said last week his test was negative.
The vice president’s office did not immediately respond to questions about where the staff member worked or whether Pence had been tested sometime this week.
“I have not been tested yet,” Pence said Monday. “I’m in regular consultation with the White House physician, and he said I’ve not been exposed to anyone for any period of time that had the coronavirus, and that my wife and I have no symptoms.”
Other members of the Trump administration have transitioned to working from home in recent days. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said she was working from home earlier this week. She was around members of the Brazilian delegation that visited Mar-a-Lago in early March.
“I feel good, but with my proximity to the president it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Grisham said.
Mick Mulvaney, the outgoing acting White House chief of staff whose replacement was announced two weeks ago, is quarantining himself in South Carolina while a family member awaits test results, and is continuing to work from home, the Associated Press reported. He tested negative.
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Meanwhile, two members of Congress have tested positive for coronavirus and are on quarantine, and others who interacted with them are isolating themselves out of caution. At least another two-dozen lawmakers are on self-quarantine. Many staffers are staying away from the Capitol. Offices have been shuttered and cleaning crews are disinfecting them.
The question about whether Congress, which has average ages of 63 in the Senate and 58 in the House, should implement voting remotely has been raised and so far dismissed by leadership.