Pence not in quarantine, to be at White House Monday, after aide tests positive for coronavirus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence is not in quarantine and plans to be at the White House on Monday, a spokesman said on Sunday, despite media reports that Pence was self-isolating after a staffer tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the General Motors Components Holding Plant that is manufacturing ventilators for use during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Kokomo, Indiana, U.S. April 30, 2020. REUTERS/Chris Bergin/File Photo

“Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical Unit and is not in quarantine,” spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement.

“Additionally, Vice President Pence has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow,” the statement added.

The Trump administration has no plans to keep President Donald Trump and Pence apart, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, as concerns rise about the spread of the coronavirus within the White House.

Trump told reporters on Friday that Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, had tested positive for the virus, a day after news that Trump’s personal valet also had tested positive.

Trump said he himself had not been in contact with the spokeswoman, who is married to White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, but that she had spent time with the vice president.

Both Trump, 73, and Pence, 60, have drawn criticism for not donning face coverings despite a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do so in certain public settings.

Trump has said he would not wear a mask and has not publicly worn one to any of his events during the pandemic, but told reporters last week he tried some on behind the scenes during his visit to a Honeywell International Inc mask factory in Arizona.

A Bloomberg reporter tweeted here on Sunday that Pence was self-isolating away from the White House following his aide’s diagnosis, prompting Pence’s office to issue the statement. NBC News reported that Pence was putting “a little distance” between himself and others over the weekend.

Three senior officials guiding the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic also were in self-quarantine on Saturday after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the disease, their agencies and spokesmen said.

The officials were Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, who was due to hold a videoconference hearing with the administration officials on Tuesday, also is self-quarantined after a member of his staff tested positive for the disease, his office said on Sunday.

Alexander, 79, a Republican, has no symptoms but “will self-quarantine in Tennessee for 14 days,” his chief of staff said in a statement.

Reporting by Ted Hesson, Alexandra Alper and Jason Lange in Washington, and Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney

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