President Donald Trump spoke to reporters on Wednesday, during a meeting with Colorado and North Dakota governors Jared Polis and Doug Burgum, and mentioned Vice President Mike Pence‘s social distancing.
“I haven’t seen Mike Pence, and I miss him,” Trump said, per The Hill, noting that he speaks with the vice president often on the phone.
“He was in the room with somebody that tested positive, and he did not test positive,” Trump said, referring to Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, who is currently infected with the coronavirus. “He tested the opposite.”
Before Miller, a valet for Trump, Ivanka Trump‘s personal assistant, and a number of secret service members tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless, Trump expressed optimism on Pence’s well-being amid his social distancing.
“He’s in good shape. But I guess we said for a little while we’ll stay apart because you don’t know what happens with this very crazy and horrible disease.”
President Trump: "I haven't seen Mike Pence, and I miss him." pic.twitter.com/bEb7LXj9iF
— The Hill (@thehill) May 13, 2020
Although Pence’s schedule has not significantly changed and he is not engaging in quarantine procedure, he is reportedly limiting contact with others due to his exposure to Miller. In a piece for CNN, Chris Cillizza highlighted Pence’s decision to forgo quarantining, which is against the advice of public health experts.
“Testing negative one day is no guarantor of testing negative the next day, particularly when you have been exposed to someone who has the virus!” Cillizza wrote, referring to the virus’ 14-day incubation period.
According to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Pence’s distance from Trump is a “personal decision,” and he will determine when to renew close contact with the president.
The Hill reports that Trump and Pence, as well as some officials in regular contact with the pair, are now tested for coronavirus daily instead of weekly. However, a recent NYU Langone Health study claims that the Abbott Laboratories rapid coronavirus test used by the White House is unreliable and creates false negatives approximately 48 percent of the time when using it in the recommended manner.
Despite close calls with coronavirus and testing concerns, both Pence and Trump have refused to wear face masks in public to protect against the virus. As reported by USA Today, a May Morning Consult/Politico poll revealed that approximately seven in 10 registered voters believe that the pair should be covering their faces as they travel.
In contrast to Trump and Pence, several Trump administration officials, including Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and HHS testing czar Brett Giroir, have worn masks in public. Reporters have also begun wearing masks during press conferences held by the president and other officials.