Vice President Mike Pence Won't Get Tested for Coronavirus as He Announces 'All Testing Is Free'
The vice president reportedly consulted a doctor to told him a test was not needed at this time
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A White House official told CNN on Sunday that Pence — who leads the administration’s coronavirus task force — was told by doctors that he did not need to be tested for the rapidly spreading virus at this time based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.
During a press briefing on Sunday, Pence, 60, said more than 2,000 labs are expecting to come online “in days ahead” with “high-speed testing” made available in all 50 states “during this challenging time in our nation,” later adding, “All coronavirus testing is free and it’s free for every American including uninsured Americans.”
As of March 15, there have been at least 2,900 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to Pence.
“It’s important as we expand testing resources … that the tests are available for the people most in need. A priority will be placed on healthcare workers and first responders who are out there that are coming alongside people that are being impacted by coronavirus,” he said. “Americans 65 and over with a cough and a fever and other symptoms will be prioritized.”
Pence also said new federal guidelines on social distancing will be made known during a briefing on Monday.
Pence told reporters on Saturday that he would check with doctors about whether he should be tested following President Donald Trump‘s decision to take the test due to potential exposure to the virus.
PEOPLE previously reported that Trump “briefly came in contact” with Fabio Wajngarten, the communications director for Bolsonaro, who showed symptoms three days after meeting with the president at a diplomatic dinner in Palm Beach, Florida.
The White House later announced Saturday night that Trump’s test came back negative. “Last night after an in-depth discussion with the President regarding COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed,” the statement read, according to a memorandum obtained by PEOPLE. “This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative.”
The 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.”
In an effort to combat cases of COVID-19 and protect the president, the White House conducted temperature checks on individuals who come in close contact with Trump and Pence.
All reporters attending the White House press briefing were required to have their temperatures checked before being allowed into the building. According to CNN, one reporter registered a temperature of 99.9 degrees and was not allowed to attend the briefing.
On Friday afternoon, Trump declared a national emergency — “two very big words” — in response to the pandemic. He said that declaration would unlock about $50 billion in funding to aid the local, state and federal response to the virus.
Trump also touted partnerships with various private corporations and laboratories to dramatically increase the scale of coronavirus testing nationwide, which has so far lagged demand and been plagued by problems. The president insisted this increase would begin in a matter of days.
The House of Representatives also passed legislation on Saturday to provide relief to Americans affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which Trump had said he was in full support of.
The Family First Coronavirus Response Act passed with a vast majority vote of 363-40, with 40 Republicans voting against the measure and one Independent voting “present,” according to CNN.
Following the vote, the president commended both parties for coming together to pass the bill, tweeting it was “nice to see!”
According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the bill will secure “testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured” and puts measures in place for families’ “economic security,” “food security,” and “health security,” she explained on Twitter.
While the bill is ready to move to the Senate, it was deferred until next week as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in his home state of Kentucky for the weekend. According to USA Today, the Senate is expected to vote Monday on the relief bill.