Pence chief of staff Marc Short and adviser Marty Obst tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the White House confirmed. The three other cases have not been identified.
Both Pence and second lady Karen Pence have tested negative for the virus.
On Sunday, Pence’s office, in confirming the new cases to Fox News, said the vice president will continue to campaign. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows defended the decision, arguing that Pence is an essential worker.
“Well, actually he’s not just campaigning, he’s working,” Meadows said on CNN Sunday morning while saying that Pence, who is in charge of the White House’s pandemic task force, is an essential worker.
When Meadows was pressed again on Pence’s campaigning, “I’m not saying he’s not campaigning. I’m saying that is only part of what he’s doing,” he said in the Sunday interview. “As we look at that, essential personnel, whether it’s the vice president of the United States or anyone else, has to continue on,” Meadows added.
Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines about essential workers, Meadows said Pence is an essential government employee who can do his job while wearing a mask.
“I can tell you that what he’s doing is wearing a mask, socially distancing, and when he goes up to speak he will take the mask off, put it back on,” he said. “He is wearing a mask as it relates to this particular thing because the doctors have advised him to do that.”
Democratic officials seized on the COVID-19 diagnoses in the White House on Sunday.
“If Donald Trump and Mike Pence won’t even take the necessary steps to protect their own staff from the virus, how can North Carolinians trust them to protect the rest of us?” North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Wayne Goodwin said in a statement. “A visit from Mike Pence to give a speech full of empty campaign promises isn’t going to mean anything to Lenoir County residents after the Trump-Pence administration has already proven they can’t deliver.”
Several weeks ago, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus starting in October. Trump has since recovered and has resumed campaigning, while the first lady made her first public appearance last week.
White House adviser Hope Hicks, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and others have also tested positive for the virus but have since recovered.
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