Mike Pence COVID Exposure Fears Rise as Stephen Miller's Wife Leaves VP Before Debate to Quarantine

Stephen Miller's wife, a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, has left Salt Lake City, Utah to quarantine ahead of Wednesday's presidential debate, raising concerns the Vice President may have been exposed to coronavirus.

Miller, a senior advisor and speechwriter for President Donald Trump, tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, adding to a growing coronavirus outbreak at the White House that includes the president, first lady and numerous top aides.

His wife, Katie Miller, is Pence's communications director and had the virus earlier this year.

She traveled with Pence to Salt Lake City ahead of his debate on Wednesday against Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, but has left after her husband tested positive.

"She's quarantining in accordance with CDC guidelines," a spokesperson for Pence's office confirmed to Newsweek. The spokesperson said she was not symptomatic, but did not answer specific questions about when Katie Miller was last in contact with her husband.

According to The Associated Press, her departure came as soon as she found out about her husband's diagnosis.

Earlier this week, she had shown disdain about the use of plexiglass barriers at the vice presidential debate earlier this week. "If Senator Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it," she said, according to The New York Times.

Katie Miller tested positive for the virus in May. She revealed her pregnancy in a tweet announcing her return to work after recovering.

But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it has "limited information" about coronavirus reinfections. The agency's guidance says "if a person who has recovered from COVID-19 has new symptoms of COVID-19, the person may need an evaluation for reinfection, especially if the person has had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19."

It adds: "The person should isolate and contact a healthcare provider to be evaluated for other causes of their symptoms, and possibly retested."

The CDC says those who have recovered from COVID-19 may not need to be tested or quarantined for up to three months after their last positive test, but that "additional research is ongoing."

"There are no confirmed reports to date of a person being reinfected with COVID-19 within 3 months of initial infection. However, additional research is ongoing," the guidance says.

On Tuesday, Pence's physician in a memo said the vice president does not need to quarantine and is not considered to have had close contact with anyone who has tested positive this week, including Trump and some of his senior aides, according to CDC guidelines.

The Pence spokesperson told Newsweek the memos were drafted and released prior to Stephen Miller testing positive, but said he was "not in close contact" with Pence.

"The CDC does not address situations of second hand exposure or even second hand exposure through someone like Katie who has had COVID. Important to note that Katie tested negative yesterday and Monday," the spokesperson added.

In the memo, Dr. Jesse Schonau said Pence "has remained healthy, without any COVID-19 symptoms." It added that Pence "is encouraged to go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine."

The White House on Tuesday also released a memo from CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield, which said that "based on the description of the movements of the Vice President from Dr. Shonau, the Vice President is not a close contact of any known person with COVID-19, including the President."

The memo defined close contact as having been within six feet of "an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection)."

It adds: "The CDC concludes from a public health standpoint, it is safe for the Vice President to participate in the upcoming Vice-Presidential debate."

But Olivia Troye, who served as Pence's homeland security advisor and was on the White House's COVID-19 task force until her recent departure, criticized that memo on Twitter.

She agreed with political analyst Bill Kristol's assessment that Redfield had been "browbeaten" into writing it and that the CDC has "no independent knowledge" of Pence's movements.

She criticized Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, writing: "For Marc Short to do this fully knowing that Katie Miller, Comms Director for the VP, is at risk (again) via her husband Stephen Miller, who is now POSITIVE for Covid, shows a blatant disregard for the health & safety of VP Pence, his staff & his family." Troye has been contacted for additional comment.

CNN analyst Bakari Sellers, a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, added: "Given the timeline of Stephen Miller and the timing of his positive COVID test, I think we must be concerned about Mike Pence carrying the virus over the next few days."

Meanwhile, research has shown that COVID-19 virus has an incubation period of 14 days with people showing symptoms an average of five days after catching it.

Some White House officials who have recently tested positive, including Stephen Miller and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, have reported testing negative for several days before ultimately testing positive.

Miller said in a statement that he had been "working remotely" and self-isolating for five days, testing negative every day up to and including on Monday. Per CNN, he showed up to work on Tuesday and tested positive.

He was part of the team that prepared Trump for last week's presidential debate.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who also helped the president prepare ahead of the September 29 debate and later tested positive for coronavirus, said none of the "five or six people" in the room wore masks.

On September 30, Stephen Miller flew aboard Air Force One with the president, aide Hope Hicks and McEnany to Minnesota, according to The New York Times.

Hicks later tested positive for the virus and in the early hours of October 2, Trump tweeted that he and first lady Melania Trump had also tested positive.

In a statement on Monday revealing she had coronavirus, McEnany said she had tested "negative consistently, including every day since Thursday" until she tested positive on Monday morning "while experiencing no symptoms."

The White House has been contacted for comment.

VP
US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen wave before departing Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on October 5, 2020 before traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
Mike Pence COVID Exposure Fears Rise as Stephen Miller's Wife Leaves VP Before Debate to Quarantine | U.S.