Some 1.3 million Americans have tested positive for the Coronavirus — including another member of the staff for Vice President Mike Pence. The new positive diagnosis among Pence’s staff members emerged on Friday and reportedly led to the temporary delay of a planned trip by the vice president to Iowa, where he was slated to meet with faith leaders and food industry executives, both of whom have figured prominently in discussions about protecting U.S. infrastructure from the economic toll of the pandemic. The new Coronavirus diagnosis comes, notably, shortly after Pence broke Mayo Clinic policy and visited the facility without wearing a mask.
An aide to Mike Pence has tested positive for coronavirus.
Pence was scheduled to travel to Iowa this morning, but his departure was delayed by nearly an hour as staff dealt with news of the diagnosis. https://t.co/Wm7jQsTh6J
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 8, 2020
Apparently, the staffer who tested positive was Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary and the wife of Stephen Miller. Pence and President Donald Trump have both been repeatedly tested for the Coronavirus, and according to Reuters, they will now be tested daily, going forward. The White House has tests that deliver results within about 15 minutes.
BRK: A staffer for Vice President Mike Pence has tested positive for coronavirus, the second White House aide in a week to contract the virus. https://t.co/OPUnrUH6ui
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) May 8, 2020
‘According to a White House official, a Pence staffer tested positive for the virus prompting officials to deplane Air Force 2 on Friday morning and briefly delay the planned takeoff. It was not immediately clear whether the staffer with the virus had been on board the plane.’
Pence recently visited the a Mayo Clinic without a mask and said he didn’t need to because he was totally confident neither he nor his staff had the virus https://t.co/23VShWij9b
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) May 8, 2020
The delay in Pence’s travel plans sparked by the new diagnosis lasted nearly an hour, CNBC explains, adding:
‘Reporters traveling with Pence said several staffers disembarked from Air Force Two just before takeoff. Those staffers left the plane because they had been in contact with the staffer who tested positive, NBC News reported. In response to the positive test, the White House medical office has embarked on a program of contact tracing for the individual, an official told NBC. Some of these staffers have already been retested.’
NEWS: Pence flight to Iowa delayed an hour after a staffer tested positive for coronavirus, I’m told. Some aides disembarked AF2. Wheels up now for Iowa.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) May 8, 2020
The new positive Coronavirus diagnosis among Pence’s staff emerged the day after a personal valet for the president himself tested positive for the Coronavirus. That valet, a member of the U.S. Navy, “reportedly had very close contact with the president, including serving meals and helping him with his clothes and other personal needs,” according to CNBC. Separately, CNN reported that Trump was left “upset” by the news of his personal valet’s Coronavirus diagnosis, noting that the president has described himself as a “germaphobe.”
Trump has frequently declined to take the Coronavirus crisis seriously, flippantly insisting time and time again that the virus outbreak would dissipate, and, like Pence, he has repeatedly declined to wear a mask. Masks are recommended to help keep the virus from spreading, but at a ceremony that Trump attended on Friday to mark the anniversary of a key point in the end of World War II, neither he nor First Lady Melania Trump wore a mask. In contrast, during an interview this week, Trump reported that certain members of the White House staff had begun wearing face masks.
The president has consistently taken a hands-off approach to dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. As for the question of lifting social distancing demands and reopening the economy, he has punted the question to states — and amid the ensuing potential for continued spread, the University of Washington has revised their projection for the total Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. up to over 134,000.