Pence will continue to campaign despite Trump’s diagnosis

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US Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for COVID-19 again, an administration official said on Saturday morning, after traveling to several states for indoor and outdoor events, attending numerous events and meetings in the White House and having been in close contact with President Donald Trump. this week.

Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis on Thursday night and the ensuing hospitalization only heightens the duty Pence committed to when he was sworn in in 2017. As second after the presidency, the a solemn obligation – whatever the circumstances – means always being prepared to assume the role of commander-in-chief at all times.

But despite the obvious need to keep the vice president safe and minimize any risk of contracting the virus, Pence is expected to travel on Monday before the vice president debate. It’s unclear how long the President will stay in hospital and if he would still be in Walter Reed when Pence surrenders. His doctor would not put a date on his expected return to the White House.

And there are still questions about his own health, given his closeness to Trump and others around him who have contracted COVID-19 and how long the virus takes to incubate. Pence, a designated “essential worker”, has no plans to quarantine. In a note released Friday, his doctor Jesse Schonau said he did not need to do so because it was not considered close contact with Trump or any of the other people who tested positive. But the list of those who have tested positive continues to grow.

“Vice President Mike Pence remains in good health and is free to go about his normal business,” Schonau said in the statement.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone who has been within six feet of a person with Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes to stay home for 14 days. While it is not known when the president was first contagious, Trump and Pence were together in the East Room on Sunday evening for an event with Gold Star families, also attended by First Lady Melania Trump, who has also tested positive. Trump and Pence met in the Oval Office on Tuesday, and Pence was in attendance for outdoor events in the Rose Garden with Trump on Saturday and again Monday.

BUSINESS AS USUAL

For Pence, this is relatively normal. The vice president remained at his Naval Observatory home all day Friday after Trump’s diagnosis, leading a vulnerable elderly appeal to state and local authorities.

“I know many of you were expecting to hear from President Trump today, but as I’m sure you all know President Trump and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday,” Pence said as he started the call, adding that Trump “asked me to take this call today.”

Pence is expected to stay at the Naval Observatory on Saturday, leading a meeting of the coronavirus task force at 2:30 p.m. Pence typically leads these meetings from the White House situation room, but will do so from his residence instead. Trump and Pence will continue to be in contact by phone on Saturday, like most days, his office said.

On Monday, he will travel to Salt Lake City before the vice-presidential debate with his Democratic opponent, Senator Kamala Harris of California. There are no plans to postpone or cancel the debate at this time.

The Presidential Debates Commission and the two campaigns agreed on Friday to increase the space between Pence and Harris on the debate stage Wednesday night from seven to 12 feet.

And Pence’s campaign trip is expected to continue, with few signs that protocols will change to meet the needs of the moment. Although Pence’s events are on a smaller scale than Trump’s campaign rallies, his campaigning activities still go against the recommendations of the task force he heads. He wears masks, but inconsistently.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

On Saturday morning, the campaign announced another “Make America Great Again!” Event ”led by Pence taking place Thursday at TYR Tactical in Peoria, Arizona. It was not immediately clear whether this event would take place inside the 78,000 square foot facility or outside.

The campaign said in a second statement on Saturday that Pence “will begin a shift across key states following Wednesday’s debate,” including early voting in his home state, Indiana and “other events yet to come. announce ”.

The travel surge comes despite many public health experts warning Pence should self-isolate rather than risk potential exposure.

Pence maintained a busy campaign schedule in the days leading up to Trump’s diagnosis. On Tuesday, he made the remarks at a debate watch party in Lancaster, Pa.

On Wednesday, he attended a closed-door fundraising luncheon inside the St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta, followed by remarks to a few hundred people tightly gathered in a ballroom, largely wearing no clothes. no masks, during a political conference of the Faith and Freedom coalition. Pence worked the rope after the event, according to the pool reporter, and was not wearing a mask.

On Thursday, he traveled to Carter Lake, Iowa for an indoor rally with more than 275 people, most of whom were not wearing masks. This week’s Coronavirus Task Force report for the state of Iowa recommended the state, which has seen weeks of increased cases and has the sixth highest rate of new cases in the country, “institutes statewide mask requirements with reduced capacity for indoor restaurants and bars.” Pence then traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, for a Faith in Leadership event, which was also indoors and the majority of attendees were not wearing masks.

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