The Entire West Wing Was Just Exposed To COVID-19

Erin Corbett
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Shutterstock (10626573b) United States President Donald J. Trump with US Vice President Mike Pence arrives at a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. Coronavirus Task Force Press Briefing, Washington DC, USA – 27 Apr 2020
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Shutterstock (10626573b) United States President Donald J. Trump with US Vice President Mike Pence arrives at a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. Coronavirus Task Force Press Briefing, Washington DC, USA – 27 Apr 2020

Katie Miller, a spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for coronavirus on Friday morning. Miller frequently travels and attends meetings with the vice president, putting them in regular close contact. Pence was scheduled for a trip to Des Moines, Iowa on Friday, which was delayed as a result of Miller’s positive test. Though Miller would not be joining the vice president on the trip, other members of his staff who had been in contact with Miller were deplaned to get tested before their travel, according to an administration official

Miller is also married to senior White House advisor Stephen Miller, a speechwriter for President Donald Trump who works closely with him. Stephen Miller attends regular meetings with the president’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. As Katie Miller’s positive diagnosis now increases the possibility that the entire West Wing has been exposed to COVID-19, it remains in the hands of the White House to mitigate the situation.

“Nobody else was exhibiting any symptoms or having any feeling of sickness, but we asked them to go get tested and go home out of abundance of caution,” the White House official said. They added that Miller reportedly was not showing any symptoms on Thursday, at which point she tested negative for the virus. The White House recently started testing staffers everyday after a personal valet to the president tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. 

Trump confirmed that Miller tested positive for COVID-19 during a Friday afternoon meeting with Republican members of Congress, who were present without face masks. “She’s a wonderful young woman, Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time and then all of a sudden today she tested positive.” He added that he had not been in recent contact with Miller. 

The president also used the opportunity to question whether testing is an effective tool to track the development of the virus in individuals. “This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great. The tests are perfect but something can happen between a test where it’s good and something happens,” he said.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during Friday’s news briefing that the administration has “put in place the guidelines that our experts have put forward to keep this building safe.” Such actions included contact tracing, regularly cleaning the building, and social distancing

Despite the fact that now two people close to the president have tested positive in the last two days, McEnany insisted the White House continues to “operate safely,” as it develops plans to reopen the country.

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