WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said on Monday she would follow a modified self-quarantine plan in case she was exposed to the deadly coronavirus during a visit to the White House last Wednesday or meetings in Iowa with Vice President Mike Pence on Friday.
“During that time, we’ve learned that a member of the vice president’s staff tested positive for COVID-19. This weekend I was notified that the individual was present during my visit to the White House, although I had no direct contact with her,” Reynolds said in a streamed press conference, adding that her modified plan is similar to that followed by some members of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the finance committee and the Senate’s president pro tempore, also accompanied Pence on Friday, aboard Air Force Two, flying to Iowa from the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. That flight was delayed so that staff members who had had direct contact with Pence’s aide who tested positive, Press Secretary Katie Miller, could disembark.
Grassley tested negative for the coronavirus before boarding Air Force Two and has since followed all guidance from Pence’s office and medical team, the 86-year-old Republican’s office said on Monday. His doctors have not recommended he self-isolate, and he did not come into contact with Miller, his office also said.
The office of Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, who also traveled with Pence on Friday, did not respond to a request for comment. Pence met with faith and business leaders on Friday in Iowa to discuss the impacts of the coronavirus.
With Trump’s valet and Miller both testing positive for the coronavirus last week, pressure is growing for the White House to take further steps in protecting the health of country’s 73-year-old president. The White House has directed staff working in the West Wing to wear masks at all times in the building. Both Trump and Pence, as well as close associates, are being tested for the disease on a daily basis. Trump is in the age group that is considered high risk for complications from the virus.
(Tjis story corrects Grassley’s name.)
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Additional reporting by Timothy Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Aurora Ellis)