The Slatest

Pence Staffer Becomes First White House Employee to Test Positive for Coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence speaks as President Donald Trump listens during a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 20, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks as President Donald Trump listens during a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 20, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

A staff member in Vice President Mike Pence’s office has tested positive for the new coronavirus. It marks the first time a White House employee has tested positive for covid-19 although the vice president’s press secretary, Katie Miller, assured that the staffer did not have “close contact” with either Pence nor President Donald Trump. “Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines,” Miller said. Pence’s office did not identify the individual or specify what the person’s job entailed so it isn’t clear whether he or she spent much time in the White House or with any other senior administration officials.

Pence is leading the government’s response to coronavirus and has come in close contact with the virus before. Two people tested positive for covid-19 after attending the American Israel Public Affair Committee’s Policy Conference, which was also attended by Pence. Plus Pence was also at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where an attendee tested positive. Pence also met with Fabio Wajngarten, a top communications aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, in Mar-a-Lago shorlty before he tested positive for covid-19. Pence’s office said earlier in the week that the vice president had not been tested for the virus.

Two members of Congress, Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. At least 29 members of Congress have self-quarantined, including Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who is Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff.