Mike Pence keeping his distance from Donald Trump now that Pence’s press secretary has tested positive for COVID-19, but in general the vice president isn’t being as careful as even his own administration recommends.
Pence is “maintaining distance” from the president “for the immediate future,” a source described as “a senior administration official” told CNN. The official did not say how long “the immediate future” would be.
Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary and the wife of White House adviser Stephen Miller, tested positive for the virus Friday. Pence did not attend Trump’s Monday press conference, and Trump said he had not seen the vice president since Katie Miller’s positive test, CNN reports. Pence took a call with governors Monday in a separate room from Dr. Deborah Birx and staff members.
But while Pence is avoiding Trump and some other officials, mostly he’s “merely taking half-measures that fall short of the administration’s own guidelines,” according to CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak. The reason, they say, is that Trump and Pence want to send a message that the viral outbreak is under control and the nation is ready to reopen for business.
Pence has appeared at the White House without a mask, just as he did at the Mayo Clinic recently, despite the clinic’s policy that all patients, visitors, and staffers wear masks. And the administration’s guidelines state that someone who has had close contact with anyone who’s tested positive for the virus should self-isolate for two weeks, which Pence is not doing.
The vice president is involved in “an awkward balancing act between taking necessary precautions and trying to avoid undercutting Trump’s back-to-business messaging,” the CNN reporters write.
CNN sought comment from Pence’s office but had not received a response by Tuesday morning.