An employee working in the office of Vice President Mike Pence has tested positive for the coronavirus in what is the first known case of the virus among White House staff.
As The Hill reported on Friday, Pence’s office issued a statement on Friday evening noting that the staff member had a positive test but that the employee was not in any close contact with either Pence or Donald Trump. There were no further details on the identity of the staffer or whether the person was showing symptoms of the virus.
Trump has already had close contact with people who later tested positive for coronavirus. The president was in close proximity to a Brazilian official who visited him at his Mar-a-Lago resort and tested positive days later. The president also attended the Conservative Political Action Conference, a major event for the conservative movement, with a man who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus at a New Jersey health facility. The man came into contact with a number of top officials and leaders of the conference but was never in close proximity to Trump.
Some of the lawmakers who came into contact with the man later went into self-quarantine, though none ended up testing positive for COVID-19.
Trump was reportedly tested for the virus this week as well, but the results were negative.
Just two days before the positive test for the staffer in Pence’s office, two members of Congress tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has spread quickly across the country and led to widespread closures and shelter-in-place orders. Members of Congress have been in Washington this week, crafting and approving economic relief packages for those impacted by the virus.
Both Trump and Pence have been visible throughout the week, providing daily briefings about the spread of the virus and the federal government’s response.
The virus has spread to all corners of the United States, with a total of 16,600 Americans testing positive by Friday afternoon. A total of 200 had died from the virus so far as well, The New York Times noted in its running count of the virus’ spread. Some of the harder hit communities, including New York and California, have taken drastic measures in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease. Both states have instituted some measure of shelter-in-place orders, closing all non-essential businesses and recommending people stay in their homes except for necessary trips.