WASHINGTON — A top aide to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, making her the second known person working at the White House to contract the illness in the past two days, according to several sources familiar with the situation.
Katie Miller, the vice president’s press secretary, was notified Friday about the result, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to because it had not been publicly announced by the White House. Miller confirmed to NBC news that she tested positive and said she was asymptomatic. The White House earlier in the day confirmed a member of Pence’s staff tested positive but did not disclose the individual’s name.
President Donald Trump later appeared to confirm it was Miller.
“She’s a wonderful young woman, Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time and all of a sudden today she tested positive,” Trump told reporters. “She hasn’t come into contact with me; she’s spent some time with the vice president.”
Miller is a fixture around Pence and has attended the coronavirus task force meetings that he leads. She is married to White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and Trump attended their wedding at his Washington hotel in February.
The news of an infected staffer in the vice president’s office came as Pence was set to fly to Iowa on Friday morning. The flight was delayed and six staffers were removed from Air Force Two because they were in contact with Miller recently.
“This morning we had someone on the vice president’s staff test positive and so out of abundance of caution we went back and looked into all the person’s contacts most recently,” a senior administration official told reporters on the plane without confirming it was Miller.
“That’s why we asked some of our staff to deplane. Nobody else was exhibiting any symptoms or having any feeling of sickness. We asked them to go get tested and to go home out of an abundance of caution,” the official added.
The official said that Pence was tested in the morning and is tested every day. He continued with his trip to Iowa.
On Thursday, the White House acknowledged the positive test result for a member of the U.S. military who works on the White House campus and added that both Trump and Pence had since tested negative. The infected staffer is one of Trump’s personal valets, the military staff members who sometimes serve meals and look after personal needs of the president. That would mean the president, Secret Service personnel and senior members of the White House staff could have had close or prolonged contact with the aide before the illness was diagnosed.
During a White House press briefing Friday, McEnany was asked how Americans should feel about going back to work when people in the administration were still getting sick.
“We have put in place the guidelines that experts have put forward to keep this building safe,” she said, “The guidelines we have for businesses that have essential workers we’re now putting in place here in the White House. So as America reopens safely, the White House is continuing to operate safely.”
Trump was asked if he is worried now that two people in the White House have contracted the disease.
“I’m not worried, no. Look, I get things done. I don’t worry about things. I do what I have to do,” he said. “Again, we’re dealing with an invisible situation. nobody knows.”