Key Health Officials Cleared to Rejoin White House Meetings

Pence will 'keep his distance' from Trump
May 13, 2020 Updated: May 13, 2020

Three leading U.S. health officials have been cleared to rejoin White House meetings following a period of self-isolation after exposure to the CCP virus, while Vice President Mike Pence said he will keep his distance from President Donald Trump after his adviser tested positive for the virus last week.

In a joint statement Tuesday, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that as they are considered essential workers, they will rejoin White House meetings when necessary provided they remain asymptomatic, wear masks, and practice social distancing.

The CDC and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have determined that the guidelines for critical infrastructure workers apply to them as they are contributing to the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Redfield, Hahn, and Fauci said in the statement.

“Providing that they are asymptomatic, screened, and monitored for fever and other symptoms, wear a face covering, and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others, Drs. Redfield, Hahn, and Fauci can and will participate in meetings on the White House complex when their attendance is needed,” the statement from the CDC, FDA, and NIAID said.

The three officials, who are guiding the U.S. response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic—commonly known as the novel coronavirus pandemic—had been in self-quarantine since Saturday after they came into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.

The news came as White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that Mike Pence has decided to “keep his distance” from the president as a precautionary measure after the vice president’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

“The vice president has made the choice to keep his distance for a few days,” McEnany told reporters Tuesday, stressing that it was up to Pence to decide how many days he would distance from Trump.

Since Miller’s positive diagnosis, Pence has tested negative for COVID-19. The vice president was not at Trump’s Rose Garden news conference on Monday nor at a White House meeting with U.S. military and national security officials on Saturday following Miller’s diagnosis.

There have been 1.36 million cases of the CCP virus recorded in the United States, with some 82,000 deaths, according to a tracking map by Johns Hopkins University as of early Wednesday.

Reuters contributed to this report.