United States Vice President Mike Pence decided not to put himself into quarantine, despite having several comrades testing positive for coronavirus, his office announced.
Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the vice president, revealed that Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, is undergoing isolation following his contraction of COVID-19 on Saturday. Aside from Short, Marty Obst, a senior political advisor to the vice president, and two other aides have also got positive results from the swab test, according to NBC News.
Pence’s decision raised concerns from health policy specialists. They questioned White House officials’ claim wherein it emphasized that federal rules on essential workers enable the vice president to resume his campaign uninterrupted.
While campaigning isn’t regarded as an official duty of a candidate according to the guidelines, first responders and food workers are still allowed to do their jobs, health experts said.
On Sunday, an aide of Pence revealed that the vice president would continue to work and travel, owing to his campaign’s crucial stretch, despite having close contacts with positive persons. But it was told that Pence tested negative Sunday, paving the way for him to decide to keep traveling after consultation with White House medical personnel, according to his aides.
“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 following the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”Devin O’Malley
Even President Donald Trump, who has previously said Pence is undergoing a quarantine, seemed surprised to learn about the vice president’s decision. Usually, isolation would mean 14 days of quarantine after exposure to a probable coronavirus case to avoid spreading the virus.
National security adviser Robert O’Brien told the media that Pence strictly follows all federal health officials’ rules. Pence will be in North Carolina to hold a rally on Sunday. He will immediately board to Minnesota the day after and another event in North Carolina and South Carolina on Tuesday.
“He needs to be staying home 14 days. Campaign events are not essential.”Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert from George Mason University
Saskia Popescu also called his decision to travel “grossly negligent” and marked “an insult to everybody who has been working in public health and public health response.”
At 61, Pence is considered to be at an elevated risk for severe illness from coronavirus.