WASHINGTON, March 20 (Xinhua) -- A staff member of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's office has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Pence's office announced Friday.
File photo: AFP
It is the first known positive test to date for a White House staffer, according to local media reports.
"This evening we were notified that a member of the Office of the Vice President tested positive for the coronavirus," Katie Miller, Pence's press secretary, said in a statement.
"Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual," said Miller. "Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines."
U.S. President Donald Trump tested negative for the novel coronavirus last week, according to the White House.
Pence had not been tested for the coronavirus this week, citing guidance from the White House doctor, said a report by The Hill.
Also on Friday, Pence said the country is making efforts to secure more masks for health care workers as well as more ventilators for sick Americans who may need treatment.
"We continue at the President's direction to pursue every means to expand the supply of personal protective equipment," Pence told a White House daily press briefing.
With coronavirus cases soaring, doctors, nurses and other front-line medical workers across the United States are facing a dire shortage of masks, surgical gowns and eye gear to protect them from the virus.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 18,563 as of 19:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (2300 GMT) Friday, with 227 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.