Vice President Mike Pence’s top aides test positive for coronavirus

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, has been diagnosed with Covid-19, the vice president’s office announced in a statement, marking the second top Pence aide to test positive this week.

“Today, Marc Short, Chief of Staff to the Vice President, tested positive for COVID-19, began quarantine and assisting in the contact tracing process,” Pence’s press secretary Devin O’Malley said in a statement Saturday. “Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for COVID-19 today, and remain in good health.”

The statement continued, “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.”

As President Donald Trump returned to Washington shortly after midnight from campaign appearances in Ohio, he said he had heard about Short’s diagnosis.

“He’s going to be fine. But he’s quarantining,” Trump said.

Earlier Saturday, a source familiar with the matter told CNN that Marty Obst, a senior adviser to Pence who is not a government employee, tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week.

On Saturday, Pence traveled to Florida for campaign rallies in Lakeland and Tallahassee. The vice president walked across the tarmac from Marine Two in a mask and boarded Air Force Two about an hour behind schedule. Pence rarely wears a mask upon boarding and did not wave at the top of the stairs before boarding Saturday as he typically does.

The news that a close aide to Pence has contracted coronavirus comes just 10 days before Election Day amid a blitz of campaign stops for Pence across the country in the past week, including trips to Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

Short has been seen on the campaign trail actively eschewing the use of masks for months, including earlier this week traveling aboard Air Force Two. Neither Pence nor Short wore a mask on Pence’s trip on Thursday and Friday.

As chief of staff to Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, Short has been a key aide involved with the US coronavirus response. He has been reported to have advocated for an economy-first approach to the pandemic.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance that says people should stay home for 14 days after having contact with a person who has Covid-19.

Despite Pence being in close contact with Short as recently as Friday, the vice president plans to continue campaigning. Late Saturday, the vice president’s office released his schedule for Sunday, which includes more travel and remarks at a campaign rally in North Carolina.

Short’s diagnosis comes weeks after President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and several aides and members of White House staff tested positive. Pence, joined by Short, continued an active campaign schedule and did not quarantine, with his physician saying in a statement at the time that he did not need to do so because he was not in close contact with Trump or other individuals who tested positive.

Another Pence aide, communications director Katie Miller, previously tested positive for coronavirus in May.

In the aftermath of the White House outbreak and Trump’s hospitalization, there have not been significant changes to Trump or Pence campaign events, with little social distancing and few masks. Very few attendees wore masks at Pence’s event on Saturday In Lakeland, Florida.
Short’s confirmed case also comes as the nation is facing another surge in cases.

The US recorded its highest one-day number of new Covid-19 infections Friday at more than 83,000 — more than 6,000 higher than the country’s previous record set in July.

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