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Pence aides test positive for Covid-19 and Senate vote on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett expected today

Despite contact with his aides, Vice President Mike Pence still plans to campaign this week, his office said.
Image: FILE PHOTO: Barrett meets with U.S. senators ahead of vote on her nomination
A final Senate vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett is expected Monday evening. Sarah Silbiger / Pool via Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

With just eight days to go before Election Day, the coronavirus pandemic is center stage as several close aides to Vice President Mike Pence test positive for Covid-19. The Senate is expected to vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett later today. And a mini Donald and Melania steal the show at the White House Halloween.

Here's what we're watching this Monday morning.

Pence aides test positive for Covid-19, vice president still plans to campaign

Five of Vice President Mike Pence's aides, including his chief of staff and his senior political adviser, tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend.

A spokesperson for Pence said that he and his wife tested negative for Covid-19 on Sunday and that the vice president, who is head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, would "maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel."

His schedule this week includes campaigning and attending Monday night's Senate vote to confirm federal appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

"As vice president, I'm president of the Senate. And I'm going to be in the chair, because I wouldn't miss that vote for the world," Pence said on Saturday.

Health experts immediately questioned the White House officials' claim that federal rules on essential workers allow Pence to continue to campaign and not quarantine himself after he was exposed to the coronavirus.

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.

The outbreak among the vice president's staff comes as coronavirus cases spike across the country, setting a record for the largest single-day increase in U.S. cases on Friday with 79,303 new cases. The previous high of 75, 723, had been set in July. More than 226,000 people have died in the U.S. from Covid-19, according to NBC News latest count.

Still, President Donald Trump repeated his assertion that the U.S. is "rounding the corner" on the pandemic at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Sunday.

But White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that the Trump administration won't be able to "control the pandemic" and once again compared Covid-19 to the flu, during a heated interview with CNN on Sunday.

As the pandemic continues to accelerate in battleground states like Arizona, it's becoming more and more of a political liability for Trump.

Larry Vroom, a 79-year-old Republican who has voted for the GOP candidate in every presidential election of his life, told NBC News he will vote for Joe Biden this year because of President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus.

"He’s not accepting responsibility," said Vroom, who lives in Sun City, Arizona, outside Phoenix. "He doesn’t talk about the vulnerability of people in our age, 65 and older, group, even though he is part of that group," he added.

We apologize, this video has expired.

With just over a week until Election Day, more than 55 million people have voted already

With just eight days to go until Election Day, Trump and Biden are ramping up for their final full week on the trail.

The candidates and their surrogates will spend the week in key battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania.

But Biden is also set for last-minute pushes in Georgia and Texas, historically Republican strongholds that could be in play this year. And Trump is visiting places with just a single Electoral College vote at stake, a sign that his campaign is anticipating a close race.

Already more than 55 million people have cast their vote via mail-in or early in-person ballots.

Check out our live blog to follow all the latest developments during the final days of the campaign.

Senate vote to confirm Barrett expected Monday evening

Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Sunday to advance Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett toward final confirmation despite Democratic objections.

Notwithstanding the fact that Barrett's confirmation is now all but certain, Democrats are poised to keep the Senate in session into the night in attempts to stall her confirmation, arguing that the winner of the upcoming election should choose the nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A final vote is expected Monday evening.

Barrett's confirmation has not been without controversy for Republicans. Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine were already facing tough re-election bids — their opposing stances on Barrett haven't made things any easier.

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One fun thing

President Trump and first lady Melania had to do a double-take as they greeted costumed trick-or-treaters at the White House on Sunday evening.

A pair of children dressed as the president and his wife — red tie and all — seemed to amuse the couple.

We hope they got some treats for their trick.

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

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Thanks, Petra