Several members of Vice President Mike Pence’s inner circle, including at least four of his staff, have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days, people briefed on the matter have said, raising new questions about safety protocols at the White House, where masks are not systematically worn.
Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for Mr Pence, said the vice president’s chief of staff, Marc Short, had tested positive. A person briefed on the diagnosis said they received it on Saturday.
“Vice President Pence and Ms Pence both tested negative for Covid-19 today, and remain in good health,” Mr O’Malley said, adding: “Although Vice President Pence is considered As close contact with Mr Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the vice president will maintain his schedule in accordance with CDC guidelines for essential personnel.
The statement was not from the White House medical unit, but rather from a press secretary. Two people briefed on the matter said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had sought to prevent news of the outbreak from becoming public.
A spokeswoman for Mr Meadows did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
A Trump adviser briefed on the outbreak, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Pence’s adviser Marty Obst also recently tested positive. Mr. Obst’s positive result was earlier in the week. His positive test was first reported by Bloomberg News.
A third person briefed on developments, who also was not authorized to speak publicly, said three other Pence staff had tested positive. Mr O’Malley did not immediately respond to a question about other people who had tested positive.
The decision by Mr. Pence, who heads the White House Coronavirus Task Force, to continue campaigning will certainly raise new questions about how seriously the White House takes risks for its own staff and the government. audience of the pandemic that has killed more than 224,000 people in the United States. Mr Short is among those in the White House who have questioned the broad lockdowns across the country.
Mr Trump, the first lady and several aides and advisers tested positive for the virus about three weeks ago. Mr. Trump spent three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and he was treated with a cocktail of drugs including experimental antibody therapy, as well as the steroid dexamethasone.
Mr Trump, at rallies over the past two days, has insisted the country is “getting round the bend” on the virus, despite a record number of single-day cases last week.