There’s a stir about this on social media as of 5:30 p.m. ET for the obvious reasons but it can’t be the case that Pence has COVID — I think. He’s speaking at a campaign event in Peoria, Arizona as I write this. The announcement that he was canceling tomorrow’s travel came slightly before that.
Even if you think the White House is depraved enough to have him follow through with the speech after he’d tested positive for the virus, it makes no sense that they’d telegraph beforehand that something might be wrong. The obvious move would have been to keep quiet, let the event happen, then put out a statement tonight announcing that he’s positive but that he wasn’t tested until after the event ended.
Still, though, curious:
VP Pence, in Arizona now, has cancelled events in Indiana tomorrow and will be returning to Washington instead
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) October 8, 2020
Statement from VP's office: "Nobody's sick. There's no positive tests. The VP is planning on traveling on Saturday and Monday. We'll have more information on the vice president's schedule next week soon."
Pence is currently at an event in Peoira, AZ.
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) October 8, 2020
Pence and his wife tested negative this morning. The only reason they’d test him again this afternoon, I assume, is if he were suddenly showing symptoms. And if he were showing symptoms, they wouldn’t have sent him onstage in Arizona. It can’t be that he’s sick.
Which raises another ominous possibility: Could Trump’s condition suddenly have taken a turn? If the president were to fall ill, the vice president would obviously be needed back in D.C. urgently.
But that doesn’t add up either. They wouldn’t tarry by doing the Arizona event and then put Pence on a plane later in a situation like that. They’d send him home immediately. And there’s no reason to think Trump’s in danger today. He’s been tweeting up a storm and he posted a video a few hours ago that seems to have been made within the last 24 hours:
So we’re left with a question. If the sudden change in Pence’s plans is for an innocuous reason, why the hell don’t they just tell us the reason up front instead of leaving us hanging at a moment when the country’s in the midst of a panic attack?
Question: if this is just a matter of postponing for convenience, why would the VP’s office make the change so suddenly and without immediate explanation at a moment when the White House is experiencing a coronavirus outbreak that’s infected the president and dozens of others?
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) October 8, 2020
Could the truth be as banal as this, that his staff needed a breather?
Pence tested negative for Covid-19 this morning. Staff says the change is meant to prevent burnout given the @VP’s weekend schedule, travel plans next week and late-night arrival back in DC this evening. https://t.co/c7w9weVRic
— Gabby Orr (@GabbyOrr_) October 8, 2020
Normally politicians don’t scrap events just because the people around them are tired, particularly in the thick of a campaign where they’re trailing. Pence was planning to vote while back home in Indianapolis tomorrow, which would have been a nice photo op for the White House. One would think he’d only need some Secret Service to do that, with other staffers free to go home.
While we wait for more information, here’s some distressing but potentially important background on the outbreak at the White House. One person who got infected there is in dire straits:
A top White House security official, Crede Bailey, is gravely ill with Covid-19 and has been hospitalized since September, according to four people familiar with his condition.
The White House has not publicly disclosed Bailey’s illness. He became sick before the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event President Donald Trump held to announce his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that has been connected to more than a dozen cases of the disease.
What’s noteworthy is that it typically takes some time for a patient to go from infection to symptoms to such dire symptoms that he requires hospitalization. If Bailey was hospitalized by September 30, that suggests — but doesn’t prove — that he was infected before Trump, conceivably quite a bit earlier than Trump. Could Bailey be patient zero at the White House? Even if he didn’t infect Trump directly, he might have started the chain of transmission that eventually snared the president.
Then again, Trump himself was hospitalized on October 2 and was probably also incubating the virus for awhile before reaching that stage. If he was infectious but pre-symptomatic at the Barrett ceremony on September 26, presumably he got infected only a few days earlier. By whom?
Stay tuned on Pence. In the meantime, here’s an expert in infectious diseases telling Jake Tapper yesterday that he’s never seen a patient “recover” as quickly as Trump seems to have recovered, which leads him to suspect that the president hasn’t really recovered yet. He may have improved but there are probably symptoms still happening behind the scenes that we’re not seeing.
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) October 7, 2020