WASHINGTON — One of Vice President Mike Pence's closest aides, press secretary Katie Miller, confirmed to NBC News that she has tested positive for the coronavirus — making her the second administration staffer known to have become infected this week.
Miller, the wife of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, said she tested positive on Friday after testing negative on Thursday. She said she's asymptomatic. Stephen Miller tested negative for the virus, an administration official told NBC News Friday night.
President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that Miller had tested negative recently.
"She's a wonderful young woman, Katie," Trump said during a meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House. "She tested very good for a long period of time, and then all of a sudden today she tested positive. She hasn't come into contact with me, spent some time with the vice president. So she tested positive out of the blue."
A White House official told NBC News that Miller had been at the White House in the morning before testing positive. The official also said she was showing “symptoms.”
"Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes," Miller tweeted on Friday night. "I’m doing well and look forward to getting back to work for the American people."
Pence's flight to Des Moines was delayed by roughly an hour Friday morning after the test results came in, although the staffer who tested positive was not expected to travel with the vice president.
Members of the vice president's staff who had been in contact with Miller were seen deplaning Air Force Two at Joint Base Andrews, an administration official said. The White House medical office is working to identify additional White House staff who were in contact with her.
Some White House aides who were in contact with the aide have already been retested, and Trump said Pence has been as well. "He tested negative," Trump said.
A senior administration official said that after the positive test, "we asked some of our staff to deplane. Nobody else was exhibiting any symptoms or having any feeling of sickness, but we asked them to go get tested and go home out of abundance of caution."
Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa, as well as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, were traveling with Pence on Friday to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on the food supply.
The administration official said the infected individual had not shown any symptoms the day before and had tested negative for the virus on Thursday. She was tested Friday morning as part of the White House's routine testing.
"This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great," Trump said Friday afternoon during the meeting with Republicans.
"The tests are perfect but something can happen between a test where it's good and something happens," he continued.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany insisted that the White House was continuing to "operate safely" despite learning that two people had tested positive within two days.
"We have put in place the guidelines that our experts have put forward to keep this building safe," McEnany said.
“We clean the facility, we social distance, we keep people six feet away from each other," she added.
Deputy press secretary Judd Deere said, "The president’s physician and White House operations continue to work closely to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the president, first family and the entire White House complex safe and healthy at all times. In addition to social distancing, daily temperature checks and symptom histories, hand sanitizer, and regular deep cleaning of all work spaces, every staff member in close proximity to the president and vice president is being tested daily for COVID-19 as well as any guests.”
Chief of staff Mark Meadows said that "this is probably the safest place you can come to."
Nevertheless, efforts are under way to make it more secure after the positive tests this week involving Miller and Trump's personal valet, who works in the West Wing serving the president his meals, among other duties.
Miller, a former spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, got married to her husband in February at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Trump attended the wedding.