WORLD Pence staff hit by COVID-19

WORLD

Pence staff hit by COVID-19

Reuters

19:09, October 26, 2020

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet trick or treaters during a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington DC on Sunday. (Photo: AFP)

US Vice President Mike Pence campaigned on Sunday despite a COVID-19 outbreak among his aides and President Donald Trump claimed progress as the US set records for daily infections, prompting Democratic challenger Joe Biden to accuse Trump of surrendering to the pandemic.

With nine days to go before the November 3 election, the White House cited Pence's status as an "essential worker" as justification for his campaign travel despite exposure to his chief of staff, Marc Short, who tested positive on Saturday.

Multiple senior aides to Pence also tested positive for COVID-19, the White House chief of staff said.

A spokesman for the vice president said late on Saturday that Pence and his wife had tested negative. Pence addressed a rally in Kinston, North Carolina, on Sunday and will be in Hibbing, Minnesota, on Monday.

The US in the past two days has registered its highest number of new COVID-19 cases. The pandemic, which has caused about 225,000 US deaths and left millions of Americans jobless, remains front and center in the presidential race.

As of Sunday evening, 59,399,395 voters had already cast ballots, according to the US Elections Project at the University of Florida.

Even as the novel coronavirus surged in many parts of the US, Trump told an airport rally in New Hampshire: "There's no nation in the world that's recovered like we've recovered."

The outbreak among Pence's aides marked the latest White House COVID-19 cases, which have included Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, their son, Barron, and numerous aides and associates. The president was hospitalized for three nights in October after contracting COVID-19.

The new infections offered a reminder of the way Trump and his allies have downplayed the advice of public health experts to wear masks and observe social-distancing guidelines to combat COVID-19 transmission.

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