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Vice president becomes highest-ranking U.S. official to take precautions due to COVID-19

(Xinhua)    08:12, May 12, 2020

Photo taken on March 10, 2020, shows U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gesturing as he attends a press conference on the COVID-19 at the White House in Washington D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

The vice president "will be a low key for the next couple of days."

WASHINGTON, May 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has been distancing himself from others, but is not in self-quarantine, after his press secretary tested positive for the coronavirus, an administration official said Sunday.

"Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical Unit and is not in quarantine," Devin O'Malley, the vice president's spokesman, said in a statement. "Additionally, Vice President Pence has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow."

The Associated Press and Bloomberg News both used the term "self-isolating" to describe Pence's preventative measure, but NBC News cited a senior official as saying that "Pence's precautions did not amount to self-isolation because there are no restrictions on his schedule."

The official added that the vice president "will be a low key for the next couple of days," according to the NBC News report.

Pence, who leads the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is the latest and highest-ranking member of the administration to take restrictive measures to avoid social contact, after President Donald Trump on Friday confirmed that Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary Katie Miller posts a tweet on May 8, 2020, saying that "I'm doing well and look forward to getting back to work for the American people." (Xinhua)

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany referred to Miller only as a member of Pence's staff when talking about her infection at Friday's news briefing. But Trump called the person in question "a press person" during a meeting with congressional Republicans on the same day, saying "Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time and then all of a sudden today she tested positive."

The diagnosis of Miller, 25, delayed Pence's flight Friday morning to Des Moines city in Iowa state, as six staffers disembarked the plane due to close contact with her, according to U.S. media reports. Two journalists were also summoned to the White House for a rapid test.

A senior administration official reportedly informed the media, before Miller's identity was revealed, that "the vice president and the president have not had contact with this person recently."

In addition to Miller, a personal valet to Trump and an assistant to Ivanka Trump -- the first daughter and Trump's senior adviser -- also had positive tests in recent days, raising concerns about senior administration officials' possible exposure to the contagion.

Photo taken on Jan. 29, 2020, shows U.S. President Donald Trump's senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner (L) and Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump attending a signing ceremony of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at the White House in Washington D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Trump, who is now undergoing rapid-testing daily for the coronavirus, told reporters Friday that he was "not worried" about the potential transmission of the disease among people close to him, adding that "strong precautions" had been taken in the White House.

The staffers' infection has compelled several administration officials tasked with combating the virus to self-quarantine, among them Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn -- three members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

As for other members of the task force, neither Health and Human Services (HSS) Secretary Alex Azar nor U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams plans to self-quarantine as of now.

"Secretary Azar will follow the advice of his physicians at the White House Medical Unit," said Caitlin Oakley, HHS spokeswoman. "He has been tested for COVID-19 and the results of the test were negative."

A spokesperson for Adams said the surgeon general has not been in contact with "anyone who has tested positive and at this time, has had no known exposure to the virus." As far as precautions are concerned, the spokesperson said he "already participates in most meetings and events virtually, and will continue to do so."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Liang Jun)

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