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Vice President Pence's Aide Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence waves as he stops off Air Force Two after arriving at the Des Moines International Airport before meeting with faith leaders and food industry executives in response to the coronavirus pandemic, May 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.


DES MOINES, IOWA - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Des Moines, Iowa, was delayed Friday after one of his aides tested positive for the coronavirus.
 
Pence, who was accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue and Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, waited on board Air Force 2 on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for more than an hour as news of the test result broke. Some passengers could be seen disembarking from the plane.
 
During the flight, a senior administration official informed VOA and other members of the press on board of the aide’s test result. He said the White House is tracing the aide’s contacts and asked six staffers to deplane “out of an abundance of caution.”
 
White House Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed that a member of the vice president’s team had tested positive during Friday’s White House press briefing.
 
"This individual, there is a member of the vice president's team who is positive for coronavirus,” said McEnany. “We have put in place the guidelines that our experts have put forward to keep this building safe, which means contact tracing, all of the recommended guidelines we have for businesses that have essential workers, we are now putting in place here in the White House. So, as America reopen safely, the White House is continuing to operate safely."
 
When asked when the aide had last contact with the Pence, the official said, “I’m not going to get into the level of contact.” He noted, though, the vice president “is tested regularly and daily,” and said Pence tested negative Friday morning. The president “has not had direct contact with this person recently,” said the official.  
 
The aide, whose gender and role in the vice president’s office was not disclosed, was not aboard the plane and was not scheduled to be on the trip.
 
The administration official said the aide is one of approximately 10 people within the VP’s circle who are tested daily – the aide tested negative Thursday but tested positive Friday morning. The administration official was not clear whether the aide had exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.
 
While all members of the press were given a swab test for the coronavirus the day before the trip, the administration official said that not everyone on the plane, including staffers, secret service agents and crew, has been tested in the past 24 hours.
 
Earlier this month, a member of the U.S. Navy who was working at the White House also tested positive for the coronavirus.  
 
Pence is traveling to Iowa to meet with faith leaders to discuss the reopening of religious services to the public, and he’ll participate in a roundtable to discuss food security.
 
A day earlier the administration came under fire for blocking a draft guideline prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include specific suggestions for reopening houses of worship, calling it “overly prescriptive and broad.”

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