Pence Chief Of Staff Tests Positive For The Coronavirus

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, a Pence spokesman confirmed. Al Drago / …

Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET

Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Pence, tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, making him the closest aide to Pence and the latest senior White House official to contract the virus.

The confirmation comes as Pence — who tested negative on Saturday — crisscrosses the country for rallies in swing states in the remaining days of the campaign as he and President Trump fight to win reelection.

The White House says Pence will continue to campaign.

Trump’s handling of the pandemic has been the central issue in the race. More than 224,000 people have died from the virus in the United States, and more than 8 million people have been infected. Cases have been surging recently, and daily case levels hit a record high on Friday. Millions of people have been thrown out of work because of shutdowns and other changes forced by the pandemic.

Short did not travel with Pence on Saturday to rallies in Lakeland and Tallahassee, Fla. Aides deemed to have had close contact with Short were pulled from the trip before departure, White House reporters who traveled with Pence were later told.

But Pence, who is considered to have had close contact with his most senior adviser, decided to “maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel,” spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement, noting Pence had consulted with White House physicians.

The CDC guidelines for essential workers who have had close contact with an infected person include wearing a mask for 14 days “at all times while in the workplace.” Pence did not wear a mask at his outdoor rally. O’Malley could not be immediately reached for comment about whether Pence had worn a mask on Air Force Two.

Asked by CNN on Sunday whether Pence should continue to campaign, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said: “Essential personnel, whether it’s the vice president of the United States or anyone else, has to continue on.”

O’Malley said Short “began quarantine” on Saturday and was “assisting in the contact tracing process.”

Trump, who had the virus and was hospitalized earlier this month, has insisted that the country has rounded the corner on the pandemic.

Asked about surging cases in Wisconsin — one of three states Trump visited for rallies on Saturday — he bristled and said most people who get the virus recover.

“You know why there are so many cases? Because we test,” he said. “You’re trying to scare people. Don’t scare people.”

The Fake News is talking about CASES, CASES, CASES. This includes many low risk people. Media is doing everything possible to create fear prior to November 3rd. The Cases are up because TESTING is way up, by far the most, and best, in the world. Mortality rate is DOWN 85% plus!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2020

Neither Trump nor his aides mentioned Short’s diagnosis on Saturday as he went to rallies in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. Upon landing after midnight, Trump told reporters that he had “just now” heard about Short’s diagnosis. “I think he’s quarantining,” Trump said. “He’s going to be fine.”

Pence, who is the head of the White House coronavirus task force, did not comment on Short’s diagnosis on Saturday. In his second rally in Tallahassee, Pence didn’t discuss the coronavirus until midway through his 50-minute speech, lauding Trump for his actions.

“Until that day that we have a vaccine available, we’re going to keep working to slow the spread,” Pence said. We’re all going to do our part to protect the vulnerable, to save lives.”

Since Sunday, Pence has appeared at 10 rallies in seven states: Maine, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Florida.

His office said late Saturday that he would travel to a rally in Kinston, N.C., on Sunday and the Trump campaign has also scheduled him for a rally in Hibbing, Minn., on Monday.

“Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for COVID-19 today, and remain in good health,” O’Malley said.

Trump has sought to make his recovery from the virus an asset on the campaign trail after the White House had its own “super-spreader event” last month. More than a dozen people got the virus, including Trump, first lady Melania Trump, their teenage son Barron, campaign manager Bill Stepien, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and adviser Hope Hicks. Trump has said their experience shows people can recover.

But polls show most Americans disapprove of how Trump has handled the pandemic. By a 71%-to-26% margin, likely voters view the coronavirus as a “real threat,” though a significant portion of Republicans view it as being blown out of proportion, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

The poll showed only 36% of likely voters said they trust what Trump says about the virus a great deal or a good amount, and most said they would prefer Biden to handle the issue.

The White House has refused to say how many of staff have contracted the virus in total. Medical experts have said the incident shows how lax Trump and officials have been in taking steps to stop the spread of the virus, including wearing masks and staying at least 6 feet away from other people — and have relied too much on testing.

WFSU’s Ryan Dailey contributed to this story.

: 10/25/20

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Pence is scheduled to appear on Monday at rallies in Kinston, N.C., and Hibbing, Minn. The rally in Kinston is slated for Sunday, while the rally in Hibbing is on Monday.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

In Brief: October 25, 2020

Surging coronavirus colors White House race in closing days … The revelation of another high-ranking administration official testing positive for the …

Surging coronavirus colors White House race in closing days

WAUKESHA, Wis. — President Donald Trump assured supporters packed shoulder to shoulder at a trio of rallies Saturday that “we’re rounding the turn” on the coronavirus and mocked challenger Joe Biden for raising alarms about the pandemic, despite surging cases around the country and more positive infections at the White House.

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Trump’s remarks came hours before the White House announced that a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence had tested positive for the virus. Pence has been in close contact with the adviser, the White House said, but still planned to keep traveling and holding rallies around the country.

The revelation of another high-ranking administration official testing positive for the virus coupled with the administration’s decision to continue business as usual punctuated a day that was marked the starkly different approaches that Trump and Biden are taking to campaigning in the age of the novel coronavirus.

Pence’s office confirmed late Saturday that his chief of staff, Marc Short, had tested positive — the public announcement coming just as Trump was wrapping up a day of big rallies in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, three battleground states that will have enormous impact on deciding the Nov. 3 election.

Pence is considered a “close contact” under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, but will continue to campaign, his spokesman said. “In consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel,” Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley said.

US sets coronavirus infection record; deaths near 224,000

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. coronavirus caseload has reached record heights with more than 83,000 infections reported in a single day, the latest ominous sign of the disease’s grip on the nation, as states from Connecticut to the Rocky Mountain West reel under the surge.

The U.S. death toll, meanwhile, has grown to 223,995, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard published by Johns Hopkins University. The total U.S. caseload reported on the site Friday was 83,757, topping the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.

The impact is being felt in every section of the country — a lockdown starting Friday at the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s reservation in South Dakota, a plea by a Florida health official for a halt to children’s birthday parties, dire warnings from Utah’s governor, and an increasingly desperate situation at a hospital in northern Idaho, which is running out of space for patients and considering airlifts to Seattle or Portland, Oregon.

“We’ve essentially shut down an entire floor of our hospital. We’ve had to double rooms. We’ve bought more hospital beds,” said Dr. Robert Scoggins, a pulmonologist at the Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d’Alene. “Our hospital is not built for a pandemic.”

From wire sources

In the southern Idaho city of Twin Falls, St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center said it would no longer accept children because it is overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. Except for newborns, all under age 18 will be sent 128 miles away to Boise.

Boat parades, road rallies buoy Trump and his supporters

TOLEDO, Ohio — When a flotilla of pontoon and fishing boats decked out with “Trump 2020” flags cruised past him this summer, Dale Fullenkamp got an idea.

“I figured I don’t have a boat, but I do have a tractor,” he said.

Soon he was leading nearly 300 combines and tractors pulling hay wagons and manure spreaders through the western Ohio village of Fort Recovery, one of many parades nationwide organized by a swell of grassroots supporters for President Donald Trump.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Fullenkamp, a 19-year-old who graduated from high school just last spring. “I thought it’d be just me and my buddies.”

These Trump parades — whether by boat, pickup truck or tractor — have become a show of strength for the president’s supporters and a way to make themselves visible in a year when the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional campaigning and put a stop to huge arena rallies and picnic fundraisers.

Murkowski’s nod gives Barrett extra boost for Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett won crucial backing Saturday when one of the last Republican holdouts against filling the seat during an election season announced support for President Donald Trump’s pick ahead of a confirmation vote expected Monday.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, declared her support during a rare weekend Senate session as Republicans race to confirm Barrett before Election Day. Senators are set Sunday to push ahead, despite Democratic objections that the winner of the White House on Nov. 3 should make the choice to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett’s nomination already appeared to have enough votes for confirmation from Senate Republicans who hold the majority in the chamber. But Murkowski’s nod gives her a boost of support. Only one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, is now expected to vote against the conservative judge.

“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her,” Murkowski said.

The fast-track confirmation process is like none other in U.S. history so close to a presidential election. Calling it a “sham,” Democrats mounted procedural hurdles to slow it down. But the minority party has no realistic chance of stopping Barrett’s confirmation, which is set to lock a 6-3 conservative court majority for years to come.

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Eyes turn to Texas as early voting surge surpasses 2016

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas has already cast nearly 7 million votes, more than anywhere in America, and Glen Murdoch couldn’t get his ballot in fast enough after becoming a U.S. citizen this summer.

“I was champing at the bit,” said Murdoch, who moved to Austin from Australia shortly after President Donald Trump took office, and cast a ballot last week to vote him out.

It’s a rush to the polls in Texas like seldom seen before.

Ten days before Election Day, Texans have already cast as many early votes as they did in 2016 and are nearly 80% of the way toward hitting the total — both early and on Election Day — counted four years ago. The voting bonanza has some Democrats optimistic that decades of low turnout and undisputed Republican dominance may soon be a thing of the past.

But what that it all means for Texas is far from clear. Voters don’t register by party in the state, making it difficult to know which party or presidential candidate has an edge. Polls are unusually close in Texas, but neither President Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden has swung through Texas, focusing on clear battleground states instead like Arizona and Florida.

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Pence to keep up travel despite contact with infected aide

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite his exposure to a top aide who tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House said Saturday.

Pence himself tested negative, his office said. Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, the vice president is considered a “close contact” of his chief of staff, Marc Short, but will not quarantine, said spokesman Devin O’Malley.

O’Malley said Pence decided to maintain his travel schedule “in consultation with the White House Medical Unit” and “in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.” Those guidelines require that essential workers exposed to someone with the coronavirus closely monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and wear a mask whenever around other people.

O’Malley said Pence and his wife, Karen, both tested negative on Saturday “and remain in good health.”

After a day of campaigning in Florida on Saturday, Pence was seen wearing a mask as he returned to Washington aboard Air Force Two shortly after the news of Short’s diagnosis was made public. He is scheduled to hold a rally on Sunday afternoon in Kinston, NC.

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Reid says Biden should end Senate filibuster after 3 weeks

WASHINGTON — Former Senate leader Harry Reid says if Democrats win the presidency and the Senate, Joe Biden should take “no more than three weeks” to test bipartisanship before ending the filibuster so Democrats can overcome what they call Republican obstruction and pass bills.

The retired Nevada Democrat told The Associated Press in an interview that he understands Biden wants to work with Republicans, as the former vice president and Delaware senator has in the past. But Reid said there is just too much that needs to be done in the country to wait around trying to reach agreements under the decades-old Senate practice of requiring 60 votes to advance legislation.

“Biden — who wants always to get along with people — I understand that,” Reid said by telephone from Nevada.

“We should give the Republicans a little bit of time, to see if they’re going to work with him,” he said. “But the time’s going to come when he’s going to have to move in and get rid of the filibuster.”

Asked how long Biden should wait it out before changing the rules, Reid said: “No more than three weeks.”

___

The Latest: Pence’s top aide tests positive for coronavirus

WASHINGTON — The Latest on the presidential campaign (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

A spokesman says Vice President Mike Pence will continue with his aggressive campaign schedule after his chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday.

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Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley says Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, both tested negative for the virus on Saturday and remain in good health.

Short is Pence’s closest aide and the vice president is considered a “close contact” under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. O’Malley says that “in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”

How Trump Became the Pro-Infection Candidate

Those who take the first view, including most medical and public-health professionals, advocate a temporary, science-driven restructuring of society, …

Nine months into the pandemic, it’s a truism to say that America’s response has been politicized. Even so, with an election looming, the virus surging, and President Trump and others in government recently infected, our divisions now stand out with a startling, even brutal, clarity. There have always been two basic ways of looking at the coronavirus crisis. The first sees the minimization of death as a paramount goal; the second holds that significant death is inevitable and acceptable. Those who take the first view, including most medical and public-health professionals, advocate a temporary, science-driven restructuring of society, designed to save lives; those who take the second view, including the President and those in his circle, say that people die all the time, from car crashes, drug addictions, diseases, and the like, and argue that we don’t stop living to prevent them from dying. “Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu,” the President tweeted, earlier this month, after he was discharged from the hospital. “Are we going to close down our Country?” (Twitter flagged the tweet as misinformation since, in fact, far fewer than a hundred thousand people die from the flu each year.)

There are different ways of holding the we-all-gotta-go-sometime view. Someone who grasps it lightly might incline a little more toward risk-taking than caution in her personal choices. But over the course of the pandemic, the President and many of his followers have come to cling to it tightly, even triumphantly, brandishing it as a kind of ideology. In the final weeks of the campaign, they’ve taken the outlook to a new, disturbing place. Erin Perrine, the communications director for his campaign, has faulted Joe Biden for not getting infected, arguing that Trump “has experience now fighting the virus as an individual. Those firsthand experiences—Joe Biden, he doesn’t have those.” Shortly before leaving the hospital, the President tweeted that his own infection had left him feeling “better than I did 20 years ago!” Trump has turned against government scientists with a new ferocity, referring to them as “idiots” and calling Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, a “disaster.” The President has always seemed not to take the virus seriously. But, in recent weeks, something has changed.

An especially telling moment occurred on October 13th. According to the Times, two senior White House officials cited, in a background conversation with reporters, the Great Barrington Declaration—a document that argues for the pursuit of herd immunity through widespread infection instead of a vaccine. Although most Americans haven’t heard of the declaration, many in the medical community have; Fauci captured the consensus view when, speaking to George Stephanopoulos, he called its core ideas “ridiculous.” Although its primary authors are three professors at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Oxford, respectively, the declaration hasn’t received the imprimatur of a medical or scientific institution; instead, it’s been sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank situated in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The declaration proposes that society should stay more or less open and that the virus should be allowed to infect the vast majority of the population while public-health officials focus on protecting the elderly and others who are especially vulnerable. (The details of the protective strategy go unspecified.) Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told the Washington Post that, although the declaration is sometimes presented as a “major alternative view that’s held by large numbers of experts,” it is, in fact, “fringe.” Infectious-disease specialists have signed it, but many of its thousands of signatories are either unqualified or fake (“Dr. Johnny Bananas,” “Dr. Person Fakename”).

The declaration has its roots in the early days of the pandemic, when some scientists asked whether herd immunity—which occurs when so many people have been infected or vaccinated that viral spread becomes unlikely—might be achievable more quickly and less painfully than was widely supposed, and without a vaccine. Perhaps the virus had already spread more than tests indicated, in which case it was more asymptomatic than we thought; perhaps certain people, having previously been infected by other, similar viruses, had some level of preëxisting immunity to it.

These were appealing possibilities. But, as time has passed, persuasive evidence for them has failed to materialize. In New York City, the original epicenter of the American pandemic, the vast majority of the population remains susceptible to the virus, even in parts of the city, such as Borough Park, that have experienced high rates of infection. In the U.S. as a whole, as many as nine in ten people still lack immunity to the virus. In this context, the swift reopening proposed by the declaration would result in a sharp spike in cases, with hundreds of thousands dying and tens of millions suffering serious and debilitating illness. This is likely to occur even if officials try to focus on protecting the vulnerable. The problem, ultimately, is that society cannot be easily divided into separate layers of medical risk. Sweden adopted lighter restrictions while seeking to protect its elderly citizens—and yet the coronavirus found ways around the barriers put in front of it. The country’s COVID-19 death rate is an order of magnitude higher than its neighbors’, and it has not achieved anything like herd immunity.

Throughout the pandemic, Trump and his team have often denied that they are pursuing herd immunity as a strategy. And yet their words and actions have belied their disavowal. “Once you get to a certain number—we use the word ‘herd’—once you get to a certain number, it’s going to go away,” the President told Fox News, in August. At a town hall in September, he promised the audience, “You’ll develop herd, like a herd mentality. It’s going to be—it’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s going to happen.” On October 5th, the day after the declaration was released, its primary authors met with Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who later said, “We heard strong reinforcement of the Trump Administration’s strategy.” Scott Atlas, a top White House coronavirus adviser, has said that “the thrust of the declaration is exactly aligned with the President.” (Atlas and Jay Bhattacharya, one of its authors, are colleagues at Stanford, where Bhattacharya studies health policy, not infectious diseases.) Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an Administration official told the Times that the White House wasn’t so much endorsing the declaration as acknowledging that the declaration “is endorsing what the President’s policy has been for months.” This is an extraordinary admission—appalling for Americans but perhaps freeing for Trump. He is granting himself license to move into an even higher register of incompetence, not just downplaying the threat but actively encouraging Americans to embrace it.

As a physician, of course, I take the medical view of the pandemic; in a sense, I’ve experienced it firsthand. Caring for COVID-19 patients at the height of New York City’s first wave, I watched as the medical profession, so often fragmented by ego and hierarchy, coalesced around the certainty that any loss of life is a tragedy. Nurses and doctors worked for weeks on end with little respite, often separated from their families to avoid infecting them. Clinicians poured in from across the country to help. Health-care leaders held daily briefings, scrambled for P.P.E., and searched for ventilators. Facilities crews reorganized hospitals. Everyone—even those who weren’t seeing patients—started wearing masks. On the coronavirus wards, we went further, donning goggles, gowns, gloves, respirators, and shoe coverings. Contagious patients were placed in negative-pressure rooms and sometimes seen through telemedicine; infected people who didn’t need hospitalization but couldn’t isolate from their loved ones at home were offered hospital-based housing. Husbands, wives, parents, and siblings died alone. Women gave birth without their partners present. All this was done not out of fear but out of concern. We didn’t want even a single person to get the virus unnecessarily. Our commitment was sharpened by the knowledge that we were witnessing many preventable deaths.

As the virus surged around the country, millions of Americans upended their lives and adopted new habits to protect one another. All the while, the President and his team pursued a different path. Declining to wear a mask or follow basic social-distancing guidance, Trump tweeted about “liberating” states and promoted discredited therapies. Overwhelmed by the task of fighting the virus, he pulled from the playbook of tobacco companies and climate-change deniers, casting doubt on the statistics. The rise in cases reflected only increased testing; the number of deaths had been doctored; the virus’s lethality had been overstated—as his dodges piled up, it became clear that he had no interest in grappling with the reality of hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Atlas, a neuroradiologist without training in epidemiology or infectious diseases, came to the White House at the end of the summer, having spent much of the year offering pandemic commentary on Fox News. He gained regular access to Trump and began wielding greater influence over the Administration’s coronavirus strategy. Atlas has repeatedly voiced skepticism of fundamental public-health principles, such as testing, mask-wearing, and social distancing. (“Everything he says is false,” Robert Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., has said.) Fauci and Deborah Birx, the coronavirus-response coördinator, have confronted him about many of his unfounded claims—among them that parts of the country, including New York City, are approaching fifty-per-cent immunity. But they have been largely sidelined. Trump no longer regularly meets with the White House coronavirus task force; Atlas is now the President’s primary health adviser.

Dr. Anthony Fauci honored by Arthur Ashe Institute at SUNY Downstate

SportsBall, which recognizes notable leaders in sports, philanthropy, business, entertainment, and medicine, supports Arthur Ashe’s Institute’s …
NEW YORK (WABC) — SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University announced Dr. Anthony Fauci will be among this year’s honorees at the 26th Annual SportsBall event, the Black Tie & Sneakers Gala of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (AAIUH).

Each year, the Institute honors organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to health, education, medical research, community service, and philanthropy.


The annual SportsBall gala brings together some of the most influential leaders in sports, business, entertainment and medicine to raise funds that support critical health programs for the Brooklyn community.

Joining Dr. Fauci, officials say this year’s honorees include a posthumous award to Downstate’s beloved Clinical Assistant Professor and Hospitalist Dr. James A. Mahoney, and another, to the Law Firm of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark PC. Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will introduce Dr. Fauci.

“This is a particularly poignant year for us as we celebrate Arthur Ashe’s legacy amid a pandemic that has claimed more than 215,000 lives,” said SUNY Downstate President Dr. Wayne J. Riley. “As America’s most respected infectious diseases expert, Dr. Fauci is the most important voice providing critical guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite his own underlying health risks, Dr. Mahoney served patients during the pandemic, ultimately losing his life in the battle. The Law Firm of Vladeck Raskin & Clark continues to fight for more equity and diversity in the workplace. We are proud to welcome these esteemed honorees into the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health family. We continue to be grateful for their work on behalf of others.”

SportsBall, which recognizes notable leaders in sports, philanthropy, business, entertainment, and medicine, supports Arthur Ashe’s Institute’s community health and research initiatives. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, SportsBall will take place virtually on Wednesday, October 14, at 7 p.m.


Dr. Fauci has served as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984. He oversees an extensive portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika, and, most recently, COVID-19.

RELATED:Fauci says his words were taken out of context in new Trump campaign ad

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CrowdStrike APJ Report Reveals Nearly 3 out of 4 Business Leaders See Cybersecurity as a Top …

SYDNEY–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CrowdStrike® Inc. (Nasdaq: CRWD), a leader in cloud-delivered endpoint protection, today announced the release of …