Pence’s chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19

Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, has tested positive for COVID-19, Pence’s press secretary Devin O’Malley said. Short is now quarantining and assisting with contact tracing, according to O’Malley.

“Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for COVID-19 today, and remain in good health,” O’Malley said in a statement. He added that although Pence was in close contact with Short, “the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”

Pence is currently out on the campaign trail in support of President Trump’s bid for reelection. Pence spoke in Lakeland and Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday and is scheduled to travel to Kinston, North Carolina, on Sunday. Short did not travel with the vice president to Florida on Saturday. In addition, staffers deemed close contacts with Short were pulled from the trip before departure.

Short’s positive test once again brings into question the White House’s coronavirus safety protocols. Pence initially balked at Senator Kamala Harris’ request for plexiglass barriers at the only vice presidential debate earlier this month. The request was made after Mr. Trump and several others in his close orbit tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after the first presidential debate between Mr. Trump and Joe Biden. 

Pence is the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and at his Tallahassee rally earlier Saturday, he touted Mr. Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Trump’s actions bought us invaluable time to mobilize as a nation, the greatest since World War II, and save countless American lives,” Pence said.

Over 224,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Coronavirus cases are surging throughout the country, and at least 39 states are at peak levels of hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic.

Gabrielle Ake contributed reporting.

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