Pence's Press Secretary Tests Positive for Coronavirus


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DES MOINES, IOWA - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump publicly identified Miller as the aide but said he was "not worried" about the virus in the White House. Miller is married to a top Trump adviser, Stephen Miller. There was no comment on whether Stephen Miller had tested positive or was working at his White House office.

Pence, whose trip to Des Moines, Iowa, was delayed Friday by the news, was accompanied on Air Force Two by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue and Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

During the flight from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, a senior administration official informed VOA and other members of the press on board of the aide's test result. He said the White House was tracing the aide's contacts.

Six staffers were also asked to deplane "out of an abundance of caution." The official later said all had tested negative for the coronavirus.

Earlier, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed that a member of the vice president's team had tested positive during Friday's White House press briefing.

"There is a member of the vice president's team who is positive for coronavirus," said McEnany. "We have put in place the guidelines that our experts have put forward to keep this building safe, which means contact tracing, all of the recommended guidelines we have for businesses that have essential workers, we are now putting in place here in the White House. So, as America reopens safely, the White House is continuing to operate safely."

When asked when the aide had last had contact with Pence, an administration official said, "I'm not going to get into the level of contact." He noted, though, the vice president "is tested regularly and daily," and said Pence had tested negative Friday morning. The president "has not had direct contact with this person recently," said the official.

The administration official said the aide was one of approximately 10 people within the vice president's circle who are tested daily; the aide tested negative Thursday but tested positive Friday morning. The administration official was not clear about whether the aide had exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.

While all members of the press were given a swab test for the coronavirus the day before the trip, the administration official said that not everyone on the plane, including staffers, secret service agents and crew, had been tested in the past 24 hours.

Earlier this week, a member of the U.S. Navy who works as one of Trump's personal valets at the White House also tested positive for the coronavirus.

Pence traveled to Iowa to meet with faith leaders to discuss the reopening of religious services to the public, and he'll participate in a roundtable to discuss food security.

A day earlier, the administration came under fire for blocking a draft guideline prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes specific suggestions for reopening houses of worship. The administration called it "overly prescriptive and broad."