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Pence Keeps Plans             10/25 09:46

   Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule 
this week despite an apparent outbreak of the coronavirus among his senior 
aides, the White House says.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive 
campaign schedule this week despite an apparent outbreak of the coronavirus 
among his senior aides, the White House says.

   Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, and "a couple of key staff surrounding 
the vice president" have tested positive for the virus, White House chief of 
staff Mark Meadows said Sunday.

   The vice president, who along with his wife, Karen, tested negative on 
Sunday, according to his office, is considered a "close contact" of the aides 
under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria but will not 
quarantine, his spokesman said.

   Devin O'Malley said Pence decided to maintain his travel schedule "in 
consultation with the White House Medical Unit" and "in accordance with the CDC 
guidelines for essential personnel." Those guidelines require that essential 
workers exposed to someone with the coronavirus closely monitor for symptoms of 
COVID-19 and wear a mask whenever around other people.

   O'Malley said Pence and his wife, Karen, both tested negative on Saturday 
"and remain in good health."

   President Donald Trump commented on Short early Sunday after his plane 
landed at Joint Base Andrews, outside Washington. "I did hear about it just 
now," he said. "And I think he's quarantining. Yeah. I did hear about it. He's 
going to be fine. But he's quarantining."

   Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University, 
called Pence's decision to travel "grossly negligent" regardless of the stated 
justification that Pence is an essential worker.

   "It's just an insult to everybody who has been working in public health and 
public health response," she said. "I also find it really harmful and 
disrespectful to the people going to the rally" and the people on Pence's own 
staff who will accompany him.

   "He needs to be staying home 14 days," she added. "Campaign events are not 
essential."

   After a day of campaigning in Florida on Saturday, Pence was seen wearing a 
mask as he returned to Washington aboard Air Force Two shortly after the news 
of Short's diagnosis was made public. He is scheduled to hold a rally on Sunday 
afternoon in Kinston, NC.

   Pence, who has headed the White House coronavirus task force since late 
February, has repeatedly found himself in an uncomfortable position balancing 
political concerns with the administration's handling the pandemic that has 
killed more than 220,000 Americans. The vice president has advocated 
mask-wearing and social distancing, but often does not wear one himself and 
holds large political events where many people do not wear face-coverings.

   By virtue of his position as vice president, Pence is considered an 
essential worker. The White House did not address how Pence's political 
activities amounted to essential work.

   Short's diagnosis comes weeks after the coronavirus spread through the White 
House, infecting Trump, the first lady, and two dozen other aides, staffers and 
allies.

   Short, Pence's top aide and one of his closest confidants, did not travel 
with the vice president on Saturday. Top Pence political adviser Marty Obst 
tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week, a person familiar with 
the matter said.

   Pence's handling of his exposure to a confirmed positive case stands in 
contrast to how Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris responded 
when a close aide and a member of her campaign plane's charter crew tested 
positive for the virus earlier this month. She took several days off the 
campaign trail citing her desire to act out of an abundance of caution.

 
 
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