(CMR) It was revealed over the weekend that there was another coronavirus outbreak connected to the White House just eight days before Election Day. At least five people in Vice President Mike Pence's inner political circle have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days including his chief of staff and a close aide.
These results could not come at a worse possible time as the Trump administration has been heavily criticized for how it has handled the pandemic.
Two top advisers to Vice President Pence have tested positive for the virus in recent days, as Pence — who tested negative on Saturday and Sunday — crisscrosses the country for rallies in swing states. Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.
Marty Obst, a Pence political adviser, has also tested positive for the virus, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked for anonymity on Sunday to discuss Obst's health.
News outlets have reported that three additional Pence aides tested positive in recent days with more positives expected in the coming days. CNN reports that there are concerns that more people within Pence's inner circle will test positive in the coming days, a source said. “They're scared,” the source said of staffers in the vice president's office.
Both Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence have tested negative for coronavirus on Sunday. Despite contact with multiple positive persons Pence is refusing to quarantine in defiance of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
It was also revealed earlier today the Trump administration quietly disbanded the Vaccine Safety Office late last year before the coronavirus hit. The office is responsible for the monitoring of vaccine safety once they are in widespread use.
Several media houses are now claiming its elimination has left that long-term safety effort for coronavirus vaccines fragmented among federal agencies, with no central leadership, experts say. The New York Times broke the story that the National Vaccine Program Office which was run by the CDC was charged with burning together all agencies involved in immunization efforts and to monitor the safety of vaccines once in use.
They focused on what symptoms been apparent after a vaccine was distributed and which might be coincidental.
The office was shut down in 2019 and merged into an office focussing on infectious diseases. The Department of Health and Human Services has said the office merged with the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy and that all functions continue under the new organization.
Critics maintain there is now no active coordination. The agency was set up in 1990.