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Pence Has 'Has Remained Healthy,' Physician Says As Team Takes Extra Precautions

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, walk toward Air Force Two on Monday en route to Utah for debate prep.
Jacquelyn Martin
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, walk toward Air Force Two on Monday en route to Utah for debate prep.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Vice President Pence tested negative for the virus on Tuesday and remains symptom-free, his physician Dr. Jess Schonau said in a memo. Even so, his team says it is taking extra precautions as he picks up campaign trips for President Trump, who has returned to the White House.

Pence "has remained healthy, without any COVID-19 symptoms, and has continued to have daily COVID-19 antigen tests and intermittent PCR tests which have all resulted as negatives," Schonau wrote.

Pence is tested daily, Schonau said. He reiterated that, under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pence is not considered a close contact of Trump or any other senior White House officials, meaning he is clear to "go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine."

However, Pence had an active schedule prior to Trump's positive test. He was with the president on Sept. 28, a few days before he tested positive, and at the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. At least eight people who attended have now tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Monday, on his way to Utah in advance Wednesday's vice presidential debate, Pence said he was looking forward to get back on the campaign trail.

Pence was speaking at Joint Base Andrews just minutes after the president announced he would be leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

"When the president told me he was headed back to the White House, he told me to head to Utah, and we're looking very much looking forward to the vice presidential debate," Pence said just before boarding Air Force Two, without taking questions from reporters.

His team members are working hard to make sure he, and they, remain safe during the trip.

Pence will debate Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday in Salt Lake City.

The Trump campaign said Pence will do more of the campaigning as Trump recovers from the coronavirus. That includes trips through key swing states starting Thursday.

Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, said the extra work doesn't change much.

"He's honored to pick up some additional travel, but I'm not sure that he sees the role differently," Short said. "The president is healthy and making decisions."

The vice president has been busy over the last four days, Short said. Pence has joined some campaign calls, led a coronavirus task force meeting and participated in a national security call.

Short said that "out of abundance of caution," he had been "self-isolating at his residence so that we can make sure that this week goes on."

Short said the team is takings steps to ensure Pence remains in a protected environment throughout his travels. He added that staff is also taking other precautions to avoid further spread of the virus.

"We began encouraging staff to not come into the building unless it was essential late Thursday night after we got the president's diagnosis," Short said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.