WASHINGTON – Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, tested positive for COVID-19 Saturday, Pence’s spokesman said in a statement Saturday night after reports that another senior adviser had also tested positive.
The New York Times and CNN reported that an additional Pence aide had tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to at least three. The Times reported as many as five close associates to the vice president have tested positive for COVID-19.
Short began isolating Saturday and assisting in the contact tracing process, according to Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley.
Both Pence and his wife, Karen, tested negative Saturday and Pence is not curtailing his movements despite having been in close contact with Short.
“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,” O’Malley said in the statement.
President Donald Trump, who contracted the virus about three weeks ago, briefly commented to reporters after returning from the campaign trail early Sunday morning.
“He’s going to be fine,” Trump said of Short, when he got off Air Force One. “But he’s quarantining.”
Pence is head of the White House’s coronavirus task force.
Pence was in the middle of his second campaign rally in Florida Saturday when Bloomberg reported that Marty Obst, his outside senior political adviser, had tested positive.
Bloomberg said it wasn’t immediately clear whether Obst had developed symptoms of COVID-19.
CNN reported that Obst tested positive earlier in the week.
Obst did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Both Obst and Short often travel with Pence.
Short, but not Obst, traveled with Pence to Indiana Thursday and interacted with the supporters who came out for Pence’s rally in Fort Wayne.
Short did not travel with Pence to Florida on Saturday. Aides who had been in close contact with Short were pulled from the trip before departure.
Katie Miller, Pence’s communications director, contracted the virus in May.
Pence has had a heavy traveling schedule, making at least one campaign stop most days this month.
“When Joe Biden is talking about shutting down our economy, we are opening up America again,” Pence said in Lakeland, Florida, before his second rally in Tallahassee.
He’s traveling to Kinston, North Carolina, on Sunday.
Karen Pence is headlining an event in New Hill, North Carolina, Monday. On Tuesday, the vice president is scheduled to travel to Greensboro, North Carolina, and Greenville, South Carolina.
During the vice presidential debate this month, Pence was asked how the administration can expect Americans to follow COVID safety guidelines when those at the White House haven’t done so.
Pence said he and Trump trust people to make choices that are in the best interest of their health.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris consistently talk about mandates,” Pence said. “We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people.”
Contributing: Matthew Brown