Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence will be tested for Covid-19 after a member of his staff contracted the novel coronavirus, the vice president said in a White House press briefing on Saturday afternoon.
Standing next to key members of Donald Trump’s administration and several of the nation’s leading health experts, the vice president confirmed he was going to be tested after reports indicated a member of his team contracted the virus earlier in the week.
Mr Pence said the aide had not been to the White House since Monday, and that neither he nor the president had direct contact with the staff member.
“Both I and my wife will be tested later this afternoon,” the vice president said. He also said his aide was “doing well” after having tested positive for the virus, adding that he experienced mild, cold-like symptoms.
The vice president said that he decided to get tested based on his “unique position” leading the administration’s task force and overseeing the federal government’s response to the global pandemic.
Mr Pence advised Americans not to get tested for the coronavirus if they don’t show symptoms for the illness, which include runny nose, coughing and respiratory issues, a fever and other more severe complications in some circumstances.
The president has also previously received testing for Covid-19 and said those results were negative. On Saturday, Mr Trump said he was tested again.
“I feel fine,” he told reporters. “I hope I look good.”
Mr Pence also said the US was on day six of what the administration’s task force has described as a 15-day window to slow the spread of the virus, as tens of millions of Americans have been ordered to stay at home and governors across the country declare states of emergency.
Health officials said the pandemic would likely impact the US for as long as 18 months, as a federal plan of action to deal with the crisis warned of outbreaks coming in multiple waves.
Mr Pence said on Saturday that “testing is expanding rapidly” throughout the country.
He added: “Among the number of more than 195,000 that have been tested, it’s important to remember that only 19,343 — at this moment—have tested positive for the coronavirus.”