(Headline USA) Health policy specialists questioned White House officials’ claim that federal rules on essential workers allow Vice President Mike Pence to continue to campaign and not quarantine himself after potentially being exposed to the coronavirus.
Pence tested negative on Sunday and decided to keep traveling after consulting White House medical personnel, his aides said.
But partisan, left-wing health ‘experts,’ took the opportunity to bash Pence nonetheless.
They claimed campaigning is not an official duty that might fall under the guidelines meant to ensure that police, first responders and key transportation and food workers can still perform jobs that cannot be done remotely, the health experts said.
A Pence aide said Sunday that the vice president would continue to work and travel, including for campaigning, after his chief of staff and some other close contacts tested positive.
Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, was among those who tested positive. President Donald Trump, said early Sunday that Short was quarantining.
Pence, however, was holding a rally Sunday in North Carolina, events in Minnesota and Pennsylvania on Monday and more events in North Carolina and South Carolina on Tuesday.
On Sunday, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told reporters that Pence “is following all the rules” from federal health officials.
He called Pence “an essential worker” and said, “essential workers going out and campaigning and voting are about as essential as things we can do as Americans.”
But petty, partisan Obama administration alums complained that Pence should spend the remaining days between now and the Nov. 3 election shuttered in quarantine.
“I don’t see campaigning on the list,” said Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice at Johns Hopkins University and former Obama administration official with the Food and Drug Administration . “Anything that does not have to be done in person and anything not related to his job as vice president would not be considered essential.”
Thomas Tsai, a health policy specialist at Harvard University and former Obama administration adviser with the Department of Health and Human Services, agreed.
Helping to maintain the function of the executive branch of government could be considered critical work, but “we’ve always historically separated campaigning from official duties,” he said.
Democrats claimed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris did not need to suspend their campaigns after top advisers tested positive only 10 days ago because Biden did not come into close contact and Harris wore a mask.
Pence also serves as president of the Senate, a largely ceremonial role outlined in the Constitution but one that stands to come into focus Monday.
The Senate was expected to vote Monday evening to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Pence’s vote is unlikely to be needed to break a tie, but his presence was expected for the vote.
If Pence’s official work as vice president was considered essential, the CDC guidelines say he should be closely monitored for COVID-19 symptoms, stay at least 6 feet from others and wear a mask “at all times while in the workplace.”
Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University school of law who is also involved heavily in the World Health Organization, said Pence’s intention to continue campaigning flouts the spirit of the CDC guidelines.
Sharfstein said Pence “could be putting people at risk” because he’s at high risk of becoming infected.
“He should quarantine in order to protect other people,” Sharfstein said.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press