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Will Pence Aide's COVID-19 Diagnosis Get Him and Trump to Wear Masks?

Mike Pence and Katie Miller
Mike Pence and Katie Miller

Katie Miller, wife of Trump adviser Stephen Miller and press secretary to the mask-averse Pence, tested positive for the virus.

Katie Miller, press secretary to Mike Pence and wife of presidential adviser Stephen Miller, has tested positive for COVID-19.

She tested positive Friday after having tested negative the previous day, NBC News reports. News of her diagnosis comes a day after the revelation that a valet to Donald Trump tested positive.

Pence staffers who had been in close contact with Katie Miller were removed from his plane for testing, delaying the vice president's Friday flight to Iowa.

Both Trump and Pence are tested frequently for the virus. Pence has been retested since the news of Miller's positive test, and he remains negative, Trump told reporters.

Trump, however, continues to downplay the importance of testing. "This is why the whole concept of tests aren't necessarily great," the president said during a Friday meeting with Republican lawmakers, according to NBC. "The tests are perfect, but something can happen between a test where it's good and something happens," he added.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany contended that staffers there were safe, the network reports. "We clean the facility, we social distance, we keep people six feet away from each other," she said.

But Trump, Pence, and members of the Coronavirus Task Force often stood close together at the daily briefings that took place for several weeks but have now been discontinued. Pence famously failed to wear a mask when visiting the Mayo Clinic last week despite the health care facility's mask requirement, and this week Trump toured a mask factory in Arizona without wearing one.

Trump aides, speaking anonymously, have told the media that he fears wearing a mask would make him look ridiculous and make it appear he is more worried about the pandemic than about reopening the economy. Democrats have criticized him for his unwillingness to take this precaution.

"It's a vanity thing, I guess, with him," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said recently on MSNBC. "You'd think, as the president of the United States, you would have the confidence to honor the guidance he's giving the country."

Few staffers in contact with Trump wear masks either, the Associated Press reports.

Now, as Politico notes, "Katie Miller's positive diagnosis raises the risk that, through both her and her husband's daily work, a large swath of the West Wing's senior aides may also have been exposed to the novel coronavirus." Miller's husband writes the majority of Trump's speeches and spends much time with his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. No word yet on if the White House will step up its safety procedures.

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