United States: outbreak of Covid in the entourage of the vice-president

After Donald Trump in early October, will his vice-president, Mike Pence, in turn contract the coronavirus? The question arises this Sunday after several positive cases in his close entourage. On Saturday evening, the White House had officially confirmed only one: Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive and placed in quarantine during the day. But according to several American media, the list of infected people also includes a close advisor to the vice-president, Marty Obst, as well as three other collaborators.

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In an interview with CNN on Sunday morning, Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, who according to the New York Times would have sought to conceal the existence of this new source of contamination within the White House, defended himself, stressing that it was information “Personal”. Asked about the precise number of positive cases, he remained evasive, mentioning “Marc Short and some cases among the key personnel around the vice-president”.

“Essential personnel”

Nine days before the election, the White House announced that Mike Pence tested negative on Saturday and “in good health”, would not be placed in quarantine, as recommended by the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Although Vice President Pence is considered a contact case of Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House medical team, the Vice President will maintain his program in accordance with CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”, indicated his spokesperson.

After the positive test of his chief of staff, the vice-president, who has headed the executive’s “task force” on Covid-19 since the end of January, thus went to Florida on Saturday for two meetings. It is expected this Sunday in North Carolina.

Mike Pence’s decision to continue the campaign illustrates once again the difference in approach between the two camps vis-à-vis the coronavirus. While the Democrats have decided to limit meetings, which often take place by car, as much as possible, Mike Pence, Donald Trump and his family hold several meetings across the country every day, almost always in the open air, but without distancing or having to wearing the mask.

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Conversely, in mid-October, Democratic running mate Kamala Harris, suspended her travel for four days after the positive test of two people who had traveled on the same plane, but with whom she had not had close contact.

“An insult to all those who work in public health”

Criticized by his Democratic rivals, the choice of Mike Pence to free himself from forty as an “essential worker” is also by doctors. Infectious disease specialist at George-Mason University, Saskia Popescu deplores a “Gross negligence”. “It’s an insult to anyone who works in public health. It is also really harmful and disrespectful to the people who go to his meetings. He must stay at home for fourteen days ”, she told Associated Press.

This new controversy comes as the United States recorded a record of Covid-19 contamination on Saturday for the second day in a row. According to figures continuously updated by Johns-Hopkins University, the country has counted 88,973 positive cases between Friday evening and Saturday evening, up sharply from the nearly 80,000 cases recorded the day before. In absolute terms, the United States remains the nation most affected by the pandemic in the world, with more than 8.5 million cases and nearly 225,000 deaths.

Frédéric Autran Special Envoy in Miami (Florida)

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