Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Pence Coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence and his chief of staff Mark Short confer during a meeting with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and pharmaceutical executives in Cabinet Room of the White House on March 2, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Pence Denounced for 'Grossly Negligent' Decision to Keep Campaigning Despite Exposure to Top Aide With Covid-19

"It's just an insult to everybody who has been working in public health and public health response."

Jake Johnson

Despite being considered a close contact with a top aide who tested positive for Covid-19 and began quarantining on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence is still planning to maintain his travel and campaign schedule with the November election just over a week away—a decision medical experts denounced as potentially dangerous for Pence, those accompanying him, and the public.

The White House announced Saturday that Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short and at least three additional members of the vice president's staff have tested positive for Covid-19, another outbreak within the Trump administration that comes weeks after the president, one of his top aides, and his press secretary contracted the virus. Two unnamed officials briefed on the matter told the New York Times that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows attempted to keep news of the latest outbreak from going public.

Pence spokesperson Devin O'Malley said that both the vice president and his wife tested negative for Covid-19 on Saturday and "remain in good health."

"I also find it really harmful and disrespectful to the people going to the rally. He needs to be staying home 14 days. Campaign events are not essential."
—Saskia Popescu, George Mason University

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines recommend that those who come into close contact with someone infected by the coronavirus "should stay home for 14 days... even if you test negative for Covid-19 or feel healthy."

To justify keeping up the vice president's travel plans—which are set to take him to North Carolina and Minnesota on Sunday following two stops in Florida on Saturday—Pence's communications team pointed to the CDC's guidelines for essential personnel.

"Critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to Covid-19," the guidelines state, "provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community."

But public health experts rejected the notion that Pence's campaigning amounts to essential activity. Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University, called Pence's decision to maintain his aggressive travel schedule "grossly negligent."

"It's just an insult to everybody who has been working in public health and public health response," Popescu told the Associated Press. "I also find it really harmful and disrespectful to the people going to the rally... He needs to be staying home 14 days. Campaign events are not essential."

Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, also voiced alarm at Pence's decision to keep campaigning despite close exposure to a virus that has killed nearly 225,000 people in the U.S. and continues to spread nationwide.

"Pence tested negative but that doesn't immediately mean anything," Feigl-Ding noted. "Both [Stephen] Miller and [Kayleigh] McEnany tested negative for 4-5 consecutive days before testing Covid-19 positive on the final day. Early infection [is] not always detectable, but it's still maybe infectious."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Historic Offshore Wind Lease Sale in California Gets Over $750 Million in Winning Bids

"If we build on today's forward momentum, the United States can dramatically reduce its global warming emissions and become a global leader in renewable energy technologies like deep-water offshore wind."

Brett Wilkins ·


Solidarity Fund Up and Running for Designer Behind Iconic Bernie Sanders Posters

Tyler Evans "has dedicated his life to the progressive movement," says the GoFundMe created for the hospitalized designer. "Now it's our time to have Tyler's back when he and his family need it most."

Jessica Corbett ·


Journalism Defenders Push for Passage of 'Game-Changing' PRESS Act

"The PRESS Act is the most important free press legislation in modern times because it would finally stop the government from spying on journalists and threatening them with arrest for doing their jobs," explained one advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


New York Times Union Workers Planning Dec. 8 Walkout, Rally Over Pay

"Our collective action is working: Management backed off its attempt to kill our pension and agreed to expand fertility benefits," the union said of ongoing talks. "But management still barely budged on some of our most important priorities."

Jessica Corbett ·


Dems Back Blue Dog Spanberger for Swing District Post Over Progressive Cartwright

The corporate Democrat's path to victory was "pretty simple," said one progressive. "Matt Cartwright supports Medicare for All and Spanberger is a former CIA agent who spends all her time punching left."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo