During her visit to the White House last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds came in contact with an aide to Vice President Mike Pence who later tested positive for COVID-19, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday.
Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary, tested positive for the virus on Friday. Reynolds met with President Trump and the vice president at the White House two days earlier.
“The ripple effects of Miller’s diagnosis became even more extensive on Sunday, as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds considered self-isolating because she was in contact with the aide during a White House visit on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reported.
“Iowa’s state medical director, Caitlin Pedati, accompanied Reynolds on the trip and is already planning to self-isolate, one of the people said.”
Miller was the second person in the White House to test positive for COVID-19 last week. On Thursday, a test confirmed one of President Trump’s personal valets has the virus.
Vice President Pence’s flight to Iowa on Friday, for a brief visit to the Des Moines area, was delayed for an hour because Miller tested positive as Pence was preparing to depart. The vice president went ahead with the trip. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst traveled from Washington D.C. with Pence on Air Force Two.
Gov. Reynolds met the group on the tarmac at the airport in Des Moines. Neither the governor, the vice president, nor either the senators wore face masks in public on Friday.
Reynolds’ office has not responded to media inquiries regarding whether she will self-quarantine. Pence did skip a scheduled meeting with the president and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Saturday, but a spokesperson for the vice president said he would be at the White House on Monday.
Spokespersons for Sen. Grassley and Sen. Ernst issued statements on Sunday night in response to questions about whether the senators would self-isolate following his contact with Pence and members of the vice president’s staff who made the trip to Iowa.
“Senator Grassley was tested before boarding Air Force Two and was negative. He has followed all guidance from the Vice President’s office and medical team,” the 86-year-old senator’s spokesperson said.
Ernst’s spokesperson responded with a similar, but more complete, answer: “Senator Ernst was tested before boarding Air Force Two and was negative, and followed all guidance from the Vice President’s office and medical team. She has not been advised to self-isolate and does not plan to at this time.”
The tests the senators referred to were ID Now, the 15-minute test created by Abbot Laboratories. President Trump has heavily promoted the test as an important breakthrough, but a study of the test by the Cleveland Clinic found that ID Now was only correct in its analysis of 85.2 percent of the samples tested. For 14.8 of the samples, the test produced a false negative.
“That’s not too good,” Dr. Gary Procop, head of COVID-19 testing at the Cleveland Clinic, told NPR.
According to Procop, a testing system should produce the correct results at least 95 percent of the time to be considered reliable.
Since COVID-19 began spreading in Iowa, the Iowa Department of Public Health has advised Iowans who travel to places experiencing outbreaks of the virus to self-isolate for 14 days when they return to the state. The governor has stressed this advice at many of her press conferences on COVID-19. Like wearing a face mask, self-isolating is intended to prevent a potentially infected person from possibly transmitting the virus to others.
At her press conference on Thursday, WHO-TV’s Dave Price asked Reynolds if this advice was still in effect, since she chose not self-isolate following her visit to the White House.
“Again, Iowans need to make those choices themselves,” Reynolds said. “They need to apply personal responsibility, take into account where they’re going, what they’re doing.”
“I didn’t use [a] commercial flight, I talked about that before I left,” she continued. “I took a test at [sic] arriving at the White House, an Abbott test to make sure I tested negative. They took my temperature about every time I turned a corner. I left the White House and came back home.”
“But again, Dave, people need to start, you know, they have to make these personal decisions, they have to apply personal responsibility.”