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COVID-19 is once again spreading through the White House, which means either the original outbreak wasn’t stopped, or a new one has begun.
At least three of Vice-President Mike Pence’s top aides have tested positive for COVID-19. According to Bloomberg, one of Pence’s closest political advisers, Marty Obst, tested positive on Wednesday, and the vice-president’s chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive on Saturday. In addition, the New York Times reported Saturday night that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tried to keep news of the outbreak from coming out.
The vice-president and his wife have reportedly tested negative, but Pence, who chairs the sidelined White House Coronavirus Task Force, did not — and will not — self-isolate, despite the certainty that he was once again in close contact with people who had the virus.
“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,” a White House press aide said in a statement. Pence is still planning to go to a Trump campaign event in North Carolina on Sunday.
The news is yet another pandemic-related political disaster for the embattled Trump administration, less than a week and a half from Election Day, and at a time when the president is ever-aggressively trying to downplay the pandemic.
Trump hasn’t just been eager to move on from his own serious case of COVID-19 and the White House outbreak, but has been more and more eager to downplay the pandemic since returning to the campaign trail following his recovery. And in recent days, he’s been escalating his efforts to discredit the big third wave of cases being confirmed across the country