Aide to Vice President Pence tests positive for coronavirus

Mike Pence

WASHINGTON (AP) — An aide to Vice President Mike Pence has the coronavirus, marking the second person in the White House complex known to test positive this week.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday confirmed the latest positive testing. She insisted the White House continues to operate safely despite two cases cropping up in two days.

“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 and essential workers we’re now putting in place here in the White House,” she said. “So as America reopens safely, the White House is continuing to operate safely.”

On Thursday, White House officials confirmed that a member of the military serving as one of President Donald Trump’s valets tested positive for the coronavirus. The aide, who was not identified, had tested negative on Thursday before testing positively on Friday.

Six people who had been in contact with the aide were scheduled to fly with Pence on Friday to Des Moines on Air Force Two. They were removed from the flight just before it was set to take off, according to a senior administration official.

None of those people were exhibiting symptoms, but were asked to deplane so they could be tested “out of an abundance of caution,” a senior administration official told reporters traveling with Pence.

The official said staff in the West Wing are tested regularly but much of Pence’s staff — which works next door in the Executive Office Building — are tested less frequently. The person who tested positive was not on the plane and not scheduled to be on the trip, according to the administration official.

Pence, who is tested on a regular basis, was tested Friday.

Trump’s valet’s case marked the first known instance where a person who has come in close proximity to the president has tested positive since several people present at his private Florida club were diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March. The person tested positive on Wednesday.

The White House was moving to shore up its protection protocols to protect the nation’s political leaders. Trump said that some staffers who interact with him closely would now be tested daily. Pence told reporters on Thursday that both he and Trump would now be tested daily as well.