CORONAVIRUS

Report: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds considers self-isolating

Her interactions with Vice President Mike Pence cause concerns

Vice President Mike Pence talks Friday with Gov. Kim Reynolds during a roundtable with agriculture and food supply leade
Vice President Mike Pence talks Friday with Gov. Kim Reynolds during a roundtable with agriculture and food supply leaders in West Des Moines about steps being taken to ensure the food supply remains secure in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)
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As she allows Iowans more latitude to shop, camp and worship amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Kim Reynolds is considering increasing restrictions on herself by self-isolating, the Bloomberg news service, citing two sources it did not name, reported Sunday.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, already has decided to self-isolate, Bloomberg reported, citing one of the sources.

Representatives for Reynolds and Pedati did not immediately return messages seeking comment late Sunday from The Gazette.

Last Wednesday, Reynolds and Pedati had visited the White House and interacted with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who is head of the White House coronavirus task force. During a meeting there, Pence praised Iowa’s response to the disease as a success story.

While there, Reynolds spent time near Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary who is the primary spokeswoman for the task force, Bloomberg reported. While Miller did not have COVID-19 at the time, she tested positive for it Friday morning.

Additionally, a miliary aide who serves as Trump’s personal valet tested positive Thursday.

Pence then visited Iowa on Friday to meet with faith leaders about the importance of worship services and with agriculture and industry leaders about disruptions in the food supply.

Reynolds and Pence were in each other’s company for extended periods during his Iowa trip, practicing social distancing. Neither official, though, wore a mask at the meetings with faith leaders and food industry executives.

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It was known before Pence headed to Iowa that his press secretary had tested positive for the virus. Air Force Two — with Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst aboard — waited on a tarmac near Washington for an hour while six aides to Pence were removed from the flight.

Miller was not aboard, but White House contract tracers found she had recent contact with the six aides. Those aides later tested negative.

“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,” a spokesman said Sunday.

Pence over the weekend was staying away from the White House, Bloomberg reported, citing three sources.

The vice president didn’t attend a meeting Saturday with Trump and top military officials.

A spokesman for Pence, Devin O’Malley, said the vice president would return Monday to the White House.

“Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical Unit and is not in quarantine,” O’Malley said in a statement. “Additionally, Vice President Pence has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow.”

Pence and Trump said last week that they’re being tested daily.

This weekend, three health officials who are members of the White House task force announced that they would take isolation measures.

The heads of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they would self-quarantine, while Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he would practice what he called a “modified” quarantine.

The CDC advises those who are self-isolating to stay home.

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“If you live with others, stay in a specific ‘sick room’ or area and away from other people or animals, including pets,” the CDC self-isolation guidelines state. “Use a separate bathroom, if available.”

The CDC guidance does not specify how long a self-isolation period should last, but establishes bench marks including the advice of a health care provider.

Starting Friday, Reynolds loosened restrictions allowing reopening under restrictions for shopping malls, retail stores, church services and campgrounds.

However, restrictions limiting restaurants to carryout and delivery in 22 Iowa counties that include Cedar Rapids and Iowa City remain.

Bloomberg, the Associated Press and Rod Boshart of The Gazette Des Moines Bureau contributed.

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

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All donations are tax-deductible.