Pence’s chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19

Vice President Pence’s chief of staff tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, but the vice president intends to plow ahead with a busy campaign schedule, his office said.

“Today, Marc Short, Chief of Staff to the Vice President, tested positive for COVID-19, began quarantine and assisting in the contact tracing process,” Pence’s press secretary Devin O’Malley said in a statement. “Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for COVID-19 today, and remain in good health.”

“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 CDC guidelines for essential personnel,” O’Malley said.

Short is the latest White House official to contract the virus, and he is the second person close to Pence whose case became public on Saturday. But Short is in regular contact with the vice president, increasing Pence’s risk of exposure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines urge individuals who are considered a close contact of someone with COVID-19 to stay home for 14 days from their last contact with that individual.

Pence has maintained an aggressive travel schedule in recent weeks, and it is only expected to intensify in the final week of the campaign. He spent Saturday in Florida and will travel to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Minnesota in the coming days, among other states.

Marty Obst, an adviser to Pence who is not a White House employee, also tested positive for the virus earlier this week, multiple outlets reported Saturday. Obst is not an administration employee and is not considered a close contact.

President Trump and the first lady tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, as did several top aides to the president. Pence’s communications director, Katie Miller, contracted and recovered from the virus earlier this year.

Despite the virus breaching the walls of the White House, the pandemic has largely been an afterthought at Trump campaign events. Both the president and vice president typically speak to crowds of hundreds, if not thousands of people. While many events take place outdoors where the risk of transmission is lower, there is rarely any social distancing and many attendees do not wear masks.

Both men have ramped up their campaign activity to hold multiple events per day in the closing stretch of the race. At the same time, cases are spiking across the country, and state and local officials in Montana, Utah, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Idaho and elsewhere have warned that their hospital systems are nearing or have reached capacity.

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