Vice President Mike Pence’s spokesperson Katie Miller, who also serves as a spokesperson for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, tested positive for the coronavirus, a day after a valet to President Donald Trump was reported to have the disease.
Miller is married to Stephen Miller, an adviser to President Trump who works in the West Wing near the Oval Office.
Trump confirmed Miller was the staffer who tested positive during an event with Republican lawmakers at the White House.
Miller was a constant presence in the White House press room when President Trump, the vice president and members of the coronavirus task force – including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx – briefed the media.
Vice President Mike Pence’s spokesperson Katie Miller, who also serves as a spokesperson for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, tested positive for the coronavirus
Katie Miller is married to White House senior adviser Stephen Miller; the two are seen at the September 2019 state dinner for the Australian prime minister
Pence’s flight to Des Moines, Iowa, was delayed nearly an hour on Friday morning. Reporters traveling with the vice president reported several staffers exited the plane before it ultimately took off.
Miller tested positive on Friday after testing negative on Thursday, according to a senior administration official. Pence was tested Friday morning and was negative.
She was not on the vice president’s flight but had possibly been in contact with six people scheduled to fly. They were removed from the plane.
A staffer in Vice President Mike Pence’s office has tested positive for the coronaviru but Pence was tested and is negative
The result came a day after a valet to President Donald Trump was reported to have the disease and the White House put daily testing protocols into place
Vice President Pence’s plane was delayed from taking off Friday morning while staffers who may have had contact with the infected person exited the plane
Vice President Pence practiced social distancing when he landed in Iowa and was greeted by Governor Kim Reynolds
‘This morning we had someone on the vice president’s staff test positive and so out of abundance of caution we went back and looked into all the person’s contacts most recently,’ a senior administration official said.
‘That’s why we asked some of our staff to deplane. Nobody else was exhibiting any symptoms or having any feeling of sickness. We asked them to go get tested and to go home out of an abundance of caution,’ the official added.
Only 10 members of Pence’s staff are tested daily and not every single person out of the hundreds who work in the Old Executive Office building, across the street from the White House complex.
Miller is the second person inside the White House complex to test positive this week.
After the first positive test, the White House shored up some of its protocols to protect the nation’s top leadership from the virus.
Trump, Pence, and most White House staff are now tested daily.
But few staffers wear masks and social distancing in the small, crowded West Wing office space is virtually impossible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a face mask if socially distancing is not possible.
‘We have put in place the guidelines that are experts have put forward to keep this building,’ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at Friday’s briefing. ‘As America reopen safely, the White House is continuing to operate safely.’
‘I can just tell you taken every single precaution to protect the president,’ she added, noting that they ‘clean the facility. We social distance, we key people 6 feet away from one another. We’ve done every single thing that Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci have asked us to do. I can assure the American people that their commander in chief is protected.’
Some staff were seen wearing masks Friday when President Trump and first lady Melania Trump went to the World War II Memorial.
Neither Trump wore one and McEnany did not wear one during her briefing. All the members of the White House press corp at the briefing wore masks.
‘This president is readily tested. He will make the decision as to whether he will wear a mask or not,’ McEnany said. ‘I can tell you, those veterans are protected. They made the choice to come here, because they have chosen to put their nation first and wanted to be with their commander in chief on this momentous day. It was their choice to come here, and I can tell you that the president always puts the safety of our veterans first and the American people first.’
And Trump was asked during an interview on ‘Fox & Friends’ Friday morning whether those who serve him food would now cover their faces.
‘They’ve already started,’ he said.
Neither President Trump nor first lady Melania Trump wore masks Friday morning when they met with veterans at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.
President Trump and Melania Trump kept their distance when they spoke to the veterans
White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien stands next to a staffer wearing a face mask during the visit to the World War II Memorial
Members of the White House press corp wore masks during Friday’s briefing
The positive tests have raised questions about the White House’s policy on trying to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus inside the complex, which includes the West Wing offices where the president works, the Old Executive Office building where many aides are located, the East Wing offices of the first lady, and the Executive Mansion where the first family lives. A staffer in Pence’s office tested positive in March.
Temperatures are checked at the White House gate before anyone is let inside and any one meeting with the president is given a rapid-result coronavirus test.
But social distancing doesn’t always take place at White House events where the president has been seen seated at his desk in the Oval Office with officials and lawmakers crowded around him. Officials said this is permitted because everyone is tested before meeting with Trump.
Additionally, the president has said he won’t quarantine after close contact with his valet, who tested positive.
Early guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommended a 14-day self-quarantine if a person came into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, which has infected more than 1.2 million Americans and caused more than 74,000 deaths.
But Trump said he would not be quarantined because he is ‘essential.’
‘Mike was just saying the word essential. Essential workers and as you know essential workers are immune,’ the president said, referring to a conversation with the vice president, who heads the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Vice President Pence said ‘essential’ workers were exempt from quarantining.
‘But with regard to essential workers the president referred to, we’ve always had an exception,’ Pence noted.
‘We’ve asked them to continue to go to work by every countermeasures including testing to make sure they’re not contracting the disease. In an effort that they would come into contact with the president will be testing every day, and keeping the essential work moving forward in our national response is the priority going forward,’ Pence noted.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said proper protocols were in place to protect the president from infection
Reporters in the press room wore masks during Kayleigh McEnany’s Friday briefing
President Trump said he would not self-quarantine after contact with a staffer who tested positive for the coronavirus
The White House uses the Abbott Labs test, which provide results in about 15 minutes
The valet who tested positive was part of the White House Military Office, an elite group of officers and enlisted men who are assigned to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The valet is not being identified but his duties included serving the president his meals – Trump likes hamburgers and steak – and accompanying the president on trips. In other words the valet was believed to have regular contact with Trump.
‘There is no one closer to the president physically, outside of his family, than the valets,’ Kate Andersen Brower author of ‘The Residence’ – a book about the White House staff – told DailyMail.com.
Pence came under fire for not wearing a mask last week when he traveled to the Mayo Clinic.
He originally said he didn’t need to wear one because he is regularly tested for the virus but later said he should have worn one.
Pence later wore one during a visit to a factory in Ohio.
First Lady Melania Trump has been much more strict with the areas of the White House she oversees, including the residence and the East Wing, and requires staff to wear masks.
‘She has implemented very strong rules in both the residence and the East Wing,’ Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff, told DailyMail.com on Thursday.
‘Staff was cut back in the residence, and East Wing staff are teleworking unless vital to come in for meetings or events. Masks are worn and social distancing has been strictly enforced,’ she noted.
Melania Trump has been much more strict with the areas of the White House she oversees, including the residence and the East Wing, and requires staff to wear masks
Melania Trump, who is tested regularly for the coronavirus, has advocated for people to wear face masks, shooting a video urging people to don one and was pictured wearing one herself.
The president has not been photographed wearing a mask although he said he wore backstage during a visit to the Honeywell factory in Arizona on Tuesday, which switched to making surgical masks to help battle the coronavirus pandemic.
He also said Thursday he has seen staff around the White House wear masks.
‘They do. They wear masks. A lot of people in the White House wear masks,’ Trump said.
When it comes to coronavirus testing, the White House uses the Abbott Labs test to detect the coronavirus, which provides results in about 15 minutes. It involves swabbing a person’s nostrils and waiting on the result.