Pence travel questioned after aides test positive

Pence travel questioned after aides test positive
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Trump administration and campaign officials faced questioning on Sunday about Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceLoeffler campaign staffer dies in car crash Senate confirms Christopher Waller to Fed board Trump pardon scandal would doom his 2024 campaign MORE’s planned travel in the upcoming week after reports revealed two of his top aides tested positive for COVID-19.

White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Alyssa Farah resigns as White House communications director Trump hits Barr over voter fraud remarks: 'He hasn't looked' MORE defended Pence’s campaign travel on CNN’s “State of the Union,” promoting the administration’s argument that Pence serves as an essential worker and is allowed to continue campaigning in person. 

"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 said after host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperProgressive groups press Biden to pick Black woman solicitor general Hillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Biden aide seeks to ease concerns about Cabinet diversity MORE pressed him on how campaigning classified as essential work. 

Meadows declined to say how many people in the vice president’s office have contracted coronavirus, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that “we don’t give out that kind of information.” 

The chief of staff stressed that Pence is “wearing a mask, socially distancing and when he goes up to speak he will take the mask off, put it back on.” The vice president was not wearing a mask while speaking at a rally in Tallahassee, Fla. on Saturday.

Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and adviser Marty Obst both tested positive for COVID-19, but the vice president himself has tested negative for the virus twice.

Trump campaign adviser Corey LewandowskiCorey R. Lewandowski Overnight Defense: Trump orders troop withdrawal from Somalia | 13th US service member dies from COVID-19 | Trump loyalists added to DOD advisory board Lewandowski, Bossie added to Pentagon advisory board after latest purge Giuliani's son, a White House staffer, tests positive for coronavirus MORE on Sunday also stood by Pence’s campaigning, noting on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden officially clinches Electoral College votes with California certification Hillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Trump campaigns as wild card in Georgia runoffs MORE (D-Calif.) the Democratic vice presidential nominee, continued her campaign after a staffer tested positive. 

“I’m sure he’ll do what’s necessary and what’s appropriate,” Lewandowski said, referring to Pence. “And look, we’ve also seen Kamala Harris’s team — members of her team come down with COVID and she took the necessary precautions.”

Harris's communications director, Liz Allen, tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, prompting the senator to cancel some planned travel to Oct. 18. But Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's campaign has said Harris was not in close contact with Allen or another aide who tested positive. 

While Obst was last in contact with Pence about a week ago, Short has been in frequent contact with the vice president. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines instruct those who were in close contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay home for 14 days after their last contact with the individual. 

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieChris ChristieTrump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin Biden moves forward as GOP breaks with Trump rise MORE (R) told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he was surprised Pence was staying on the campaign trail after his aides' positive tests. 

"I think everybody's got to put the health of the people they're going to be in touch with first," Christie said.

“You got to keep yourself away from everybody and I'm a little bit surprised," he added.

Christie previously tested positive and was hospitalized for COVID-19 for a week after attending President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettGraham reports 'record-breaking' 9M haul during 2020 campaign The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Supreme Court sees new requests for religious COVID-19 carve-outs MORE to the Supreme Court – an event that top infectious disease expert Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: CDC urges 'universal' indoor mask use when not at home | Pelosi bullish on COVID-19 relief | Trump largely silent on coronavirus as health officials sound the alarm Fauci warns US has not hit 'Thanksgiving peak' even as cases soar The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Fauci to serve as Biden's chief medical adviser MORE described as a “superspreader event.”

Trump, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpDC attorney general: Ivanka Trump 'highly misleading' on lawsuit deposition Biden warns Americans against traveling for Christmas McEnany hits Democratic leaders for not following their own COVID-19 restrictions MORE and their son, Barron Trump, also tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month days after the nomination event. The president was hospitalized for three days, and several high-profile Republicans and officials subsequently tested positive for the virus.

The apparent outbreak in Pence’s office occurred weeks after the White House surge. 

As Election Day looms slightly more than a week away, Pence is expected to step up his travel, including to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Minnesota in upcoming days.

Trump reelection campaign events with the president or vice president have gathered hundreds, usually outdoors, with the majority of the crowd not socially distancing or wearing masks.

Cases in the U.S. have surged recently, reaching a record of 85,085 new COVID-19 cases in a single day on Friday, according to The New York Times.