Although at least five people around Mike Pence have tested positive for the coronavirus, the vice president didn’t go into quarantine before the presidential election.
On Oct. 24, it was reported that Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, had been infected with COVID-19. Pence aide Zach Bauer and adviser Marty Obst, along with two other staffers, have also tested positive. As noted by CNBC, Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative on Oct. 25 and again the next day, and he continued to campaign for the election.
“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,” Pence spokesperson Devin O’Malley said.
According to the CDC, quarantine “is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms.” The CDC also recommends going into quarantine for 14 days after your last exposure to somebody who has tested positive.
Pence, though, isn’t doing that. He was in North Carolina on Oct. 25, and according to CNN, he had stops scheduled for Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, and states in the upper Midwest in the days to come. Pence will continue to be tested, and he reportedly will be wearing a mask and social distancing. On Oct. 24, Pence was campaigning in Florida and seen not wearing a mask.
The New York Times reported that some campaign officials have said in private that Mike Pence should quarantine at home and “instead host virtual events and phone calls to demonstrate that the vice president and his aides were taking the outbreak in their ranks seriously.”
The news of Pence’s staffers comes only a few weeks after President Trump, his wife, and his son were diagnosed with the coronavirus. It’s believed that an event in the White House’s Rose Garden in late September celebrating the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett was a superspreader event after three senators, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the Republic National Committee chairwoman, and former aide Kellyanne Conway were infected.
According to CNN, the vice president’s office and Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, were trying to keep the news of Pence’s aides from leaking to the media. Meadows, who got coronavirus himself in November, denied that.
Pence is also the head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, and he took credit for Pfizer’s announcement on Nov. 9 that early results from its vaccine candidate had been 90% effective.