“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," Pence said Monday

By Sean Neumann
March 17, 2020 04:51 PM
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Vice President Mike Pence reiterated Monday that he has not been tested for the novel coronavirus because he has no symptoms and no sustained contact with any coronavirus patients — despite being around individuals earlier this month who later tested positive for the virus.

“I’ve not been tested yet,” Pence, 60, told reporters at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. “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.”

Earlier this month, Pence and President Donald Trump were both photographed together with Fabio Wajngarten, the communications director for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Wajngarten later tested positive for the virus.

Brazilian diplomat Nestor Forster, who dined with Trump at the club and shook his hand, also later tested positive for the virus.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement last Thursday that the administration was continuing to monitor both the president’s and vice presidents’ health, though both initially said they were not going to be tested.

“Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time,” Grisham said then.

Trump, 73, said he was tested late Friday and the results came back negative over the weekend.

Asked by a reporter on Monday if he and Pence had considered staying apart, in case one of them is infected, Trump said, “We haven’t thought of it. … We’re very careful. We’re very careful with being together.”

“I’ve been very strongly tested. And we have to be very careful, but everybody should be vigilant. We have to be vigilant,” he said.

Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump (center) speaking from the White House briefing room on Sunday
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

As the new coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year, has spread around the globe, it has infected various political figures among tens of thousands of other people.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday that he does not plan to get tested for the coronavirus, despite his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, testing positive for it last week after falling sick with flu-like symptoms following a recent trip to Britain.

Government officials in France, Iran, Brazil, Australia and Italy have also tested positive for the new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.

While the majority of people who contract it will experience mild or moderate symptoms, a fraction of cases will involve more severe symptoms and people with few or no symptoms can still transmit the virus.

People over the age of 60 and with underlying health conditions are most at risk, health officials have said.

“There is no need to get tested until you are starting to show symptoms,” Trudeau, 48, repeated Tuesday, according to Huffington Post reporter Althia Raj.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading health official on the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, has also said people shouldn’t get tested unless they show symptoms — which Pence has continued to echo, encouraging people to consult a doctor about their symptoms before getting a test.

“I’m in regular consultation with the White House physician,” Pence said. “He said I’ve not been exposed to anyone for any period of time who has the coronavirus.”

As of Tuesday, there were about 5,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and 93 deaths. Worldwide there were about 196,000 confirmed cases and 7,800 deaths.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.