Several aides to Vice President Mike Pence, including his chief of staff Marc Short, have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past few days, according to the New York Times.
The Times reported that five people in Pence’s inner circle tested positive for COVID-19, citing people briefed on the matter.
Devin O’Malley, press secretary for Pence, confirmed in a statement on Saturday that Short recently tested positive. According to the Times, a person briefed on the diagnosis said Short tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
“Today, Marc Short, Chief of Staff to the Vice President, tested positive for COVID-19, began quarantine and assisting in the contact tracing process,” O’Malley wrote in a statement issued Saturday.
O’Malley wrote that both the VP and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for COVID-19 on Saturday and “remain in good health.” O’Mally added that Pence will maintain his schedule.
“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 C.D.C. guidelines for essential personnel,” O’Malley wrote.
According to the Times, Marty Obst, a Pence adviser, also recently tested positive and received his result earlier in the week, which was first reported by Bloomberg News.
An unnamed third person briefed on the developments told the Times that three additional Pence staffers tested positive for COVID-19.
The Times reported that two people briefed on the matter said that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sought to keep news of the outbreak among Pence’s circle from becoming public.
On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that an additional Pence staffer, known informally as a “body man” who accompanies the Vice President throughout his day— also tested positive for COVID-19, citing two officials. The Post reported that Pence is regularly in close contact with the aide, who travels with him on Air Force Two and accompanies him for much of his day in the White House complex. An official familiar told the Post that the aide tested positive while in quarantine, which he began on Tuesday after having close contact with Obst.
Pence, who heads up the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has continued campaigning amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans thus far. The VP has made campaign event trips to Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire in the last week.
On Saturday, Pence traveled to Florida for campaign rallies in Lakeland and Tallahassee.
Earlier this month, President Trump, first lady Melania Trump and several people in the President’s circle tested positive for COVID-19. The President was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for four days and was treated with a cocktail of medicine that included an experimental antibody treatment in addition the steroid dexamethasone. Trump soon returned to the campaign trail and held enormous rallies that were largely maskless.