Vice President Mike Pence will remain on the campaign trail even though his chief of staff, a top adviser and other staffers have tested positive for COVID-19.
In an interview Sunday on CNN, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the vice president would take precautions on the campaign trail.
“I can tell you that what he is doing is wearing a mask, socially distancing and when he goes up to speak he will take the mask off and put it back on,” Meadows said on CNN.
Pence is scheduled to travel to Kinston, N.C., for a 6 p.m. speech and then return to Washington.
Meadows said that Mark Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, and “a couple of key staff around the vice president” have tested positive. He did not provide an exact number.
News reports said that at least three other staffers and a campaign adviser have tested positive.
“We don’t give out that information,” Meadows said.
National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told reporters that Pence and his wife tested negative Sunday.
White House officials said they were following all rules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and said Pence does not have to quarantine because he is “an essential worker.”
“Essential workers going out and campaigning and voting are about as essential as things we do as Americans,” O’Brien said.
Health experts criticized the decision.
Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, said Pence should quarantine for 14 days.
“The vice president is at very high risk for developing coronavirus. Getting daily tests is only going to take the risk down a little bit,” Adalja said on Fox News.
“There is probably a need for him to quarantine for 14 days based on the amount of people that around him that are positive and the number of contacts he had with them,” he added.