Aide to Vice President Mike Pence Is First Known White House Staffer to Test Positive for Coronavirus
Vice President Mike Pence previously said that he has not been tested for the coronavirus
“This evening we were notified that a member of the Office of the Vice President tested positive for the Coronavirus,” Katie Miller said in a statement. “Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual. Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines.”
The announcement comes almost two weeks after President Donald Trump and Pence, 60, attended a diplomatic dinner at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, in which several attendees later tested positive for the coronavirus.
Pence previously said that he has not been tested for coronavirus because he has no symptoms and no sustained contact with any COVID-19 patients.
“I’ve not been tested yet,” Pence told reporters at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Tuesday. “I’m in regular consultation with the White House physician, and he said I’ve not been exposed to anyone for any period of time that had the coronavirus and that my wife and I have no symptoms. But we’re checking our temperature regularly every day and we’ll continue to follow guidance.”
As for Trump, the 73-year-old said he was tested on March 13 and the results came back negative last weekend.
“Last night after an in-depth discussion with the President regarding COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed,” a statement on Saturday evening from White House physician Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley said, according to a memorandum obtained by PEOPLE. “This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative.”
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Conley’s statement added, “One week after having dinner with the Brazilian delegation in Mar-a-Lago, the President remains symptom-free. I have been in daily contact with the CDC and White House Coronavirus Task Force, and we are encouraging the implementation of all their best practices for exposure reduction and transmission mitigation.”
As of March 20, there have been at least 15,650 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and 202 deaths.
The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-2019, a form of coronavirus — began in Wuhan, China, in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.