Member of Pence's staff tests positive for coronavirus

CNN's John King talks with Dr. Kent Sepkowitz about Vice President Mike Pence's staff member testing positive with Covid-19, and how that could affect the work flow at the White House.

Posted: May 8, 2020 2:30 PM
Updated: May 8, 2020 6:09 PM


A member of Vice President Mike Pence's staff has tested positive for the coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed Friday.

The announcement came following an hour-long delay to Pence's Friday morning flight to Iowa, when individuals were seen exiting Air Force Two before the plane lifted off of the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington.

A senior administration official told the press pool aboard Air Force Two that a Pence staffer tested negative for the coronavirus Thursday and positive Friday morning. The individual, who was not on the plane, had possibly been in contact with six people scheduled to fly on the trip, and they were removed before takeoff, according to a senior administration official.

Bloomberg News first reported the coronavirus case earlier Friday.

The vice president, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, to participate in a discussion with faith leaders on responsible religious and spiritual gatherings, followed by a roundtable on securing the food supply.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, as well as Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst were also on Air Force Two with Pence for the trip.

About 10 members of Pence's staff are tested daily, the senior administration official told the press pool, adding that 'the vice president and the President have not had contact with this person recently.'

The official said Pence was last tested Friday morning.

Friday's case marks the second time the White House has said a Pence staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus. The first tested positive in March.

The new case of coronavirus among the vice president's staff comes a day after one of President Donald Trump's personal valets tested positive for the virus earlier this week.

The valets are members of an elite military unit dedicated to the White House who often work very close to the President and first family, assisting them with a variety of personal tasks. They are responsible for the President's food and beverage not only in the West Wing but they also travel with him when he's on the road or out of the country.

Trump was upset when he was informed Wednesday that the valet had tested positive, a source told CNN, and the President was subsequently tested again by the White House physician.

The President also said he'd had 'very little personal contact' with the man.

Following the news of the valet's illness, Trump said he would be tested for the coronavirus daily. Pence, White House staff and individuals who come in contact with the President will be tested daily, too.

Trump said before traveling aboard Air Force One earlier this week that he was not concerned about being in close quarters with other people since those around him are regularly tested.

But a negative test and lack of symptoms are not sure signs that someone can't spread the virus.

Doctors say the incubation period for the coronavirus varies. The incubation period is the time that it takes from when you are exposed to the virus to developing symptoms. It ranges anywhere from 2-14 days. The average incubation period is estimated to be five days, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During a recent trip to the Mayo Clinic, Pence did not wear a face mask, despite being told about the clinic's policy saying they're required. Pence told reporters that he wasn't wearing a mask because he's often tested for coronavirus. But a few days later, Pence said he should have worn a mask.

Trump also declined to wear a mask this week during portions of his tour of a mask-making facility in Arizona.

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