About five members of Vice President Mike Pence’s inner team now have coronavirus, a troubling outbreak that nonetheless seems not to have thwarted Pence’s plans to travel across the country campaigning in the coming days.
The first case reported this weekend was that of the Vice President’s Chief of Staff, Marc Short, who a spokesperson for Pence revealed on Saturday had tested positive for COVID-19 according to the New York Times.
Despite acknowledging that Pence is a “close contact” with Short, the VP’s office says Pence will continue his activities as usual (i.e. not quarantine) because he is as an “essential personnel.”
“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 Saturday. “Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for COVID-19 today, and remain in good health.”
The statement continued, “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.”
I feel compelled to say here that Pence is the head of the White House’s supposed coronavirus task force, which has shown just as much usefulness in fighting this pandemic in the U.S. as the VP has shown in fighting it in his own office.
On Friday, the U.S. recorded 89,000 new COVID-19 infections, the highest single-day number since the pandemic hit our shores this year.
By Sunday, numerous outlets were also reporting a growing number of positive cases among Pence’s aides—with the NY Times saying at least four of them now have the virus (including advisor Marty Obst) and the CNN saying it is at least five staffers.
Despite the announcement that Pence himself has tested negative, there’s no telling how many cases may still be lurking in his circle—or how many more people will be exposed to COVID-19 when he spends the next week holding campaign rallies.
The White House itself seems to have openly given up on even pretending to care about doing curbing the spread of coronavirus, which has killed over 224, 000 people in America so far.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said they don’t feel it necessary to disclose all the positive cases in the White House as that would be “sharing personal information.”
“We are not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows added. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”
Mitigation would logically include members of this administration observing social distancing, quarantining, and mask wearing guidance put out by their own federal agencies. But what do logic and people’s lives matter to Trumpers with an election to win?