At least five senior staffers close to Mike Pence have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, but he is refusing to quarantine in defiance of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. Pence is in charge of the government’s response to the pandemic.
Pence’s office announced on Saturday evening that his chief of staff Marc Short had tested positive for the virus. Sources told CNN that three members of Pence’s staff have also tested positive for the virus, including his “body man” Zach Bauer, who spends most of the day with Pence, performing various tasks. Outside adviser Marty Obst, who is not a government employee but who has spent time with Pence, has also tested positive according to CNN.
Pence’s office has not commented on the COVID outbreak other than to confirm that Short tested positive. Pence and his wife Karen Pence both tested negative for the disease on Sunday.
The CDC recommends that people who were exposed to the virus – that is, they spent 15 minutes within six feet of someone who tested positive within 48 hours of contact – stay home for 14 days since the last exposure to the virus and maintain social distance. Testing negative immediately after exposure does not guarantee that a person who has been exposed is not carrying the virus.
According to CNN, the White House is claiming that Pence is an “essential worker” to keep him from staying home in the final week before the election.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows defended Pence’s campaigning by saying that Pence is “not just campaigning, he’s working.” He also claimed that Pence is wearing a mask while campaigning.
The only event listed on Pence's schedule for tomorrow is a campaign rally in Minnesota, plus the travel needed to get there and back.
None of this is essential – and puts the staff, military personnel, and Secret Service at unnecessary risk.
— Shin Inouye (he/him) (@shin_inouye) October 26, 2020
Pence was in North Carolina on Sunday and is traveling to Minnesota today for a rally. Last week, he held a rally in his home state of Indiana, suggesting that the Trump/Pence campaign believes that the normally solidly red state is in play this election.
Wild, and instructive. Indiana appears to be in play. https://t.co/lm072uqO3I
— Jim Shella (@shellawish) October 19, 2020