1. News
  2. /
  3. Health

Could Vice President Mike Pence have been exposed to coronavirus in Sarasota?

He met with students from a local military academy whose classmate is now under voluntary quarantine.

Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the Tampa Bay area. For the latest news on the outbreak, go to our coronavirus page, which we are updating regularly. You also can sign up for our DayStarter newsletter to have the day’s news sent right to your inbox each morning for free.

When Vice President Mike Pence visited Florida for a fundraiser just days after he was named the nation’s point person on coronavirus, he met 44 students from the Sarasota Military Academy.

Now one of those students’ classmates is under a self quarantine because he was possibly exposed to coronavirus. According to a leader at the school, Pence’s office has reached out to ask: Could the vice president also have come into contact with the illness?

Christina Bowman, the executive director of Sarasota Military Academy schools, said the student was not at the event. But could any of the students in attendance have also been around the boy?

“Students are on campus, so...” she said, pausing. “If you are asking me, I can’t divulge any protected information about any student who may have been in class with the student in question.”

Related: What’s on Mike Pence’s schedule as coronavirus point man? A fundraiser in Florida.

Both the student and his mother are in isolation. Neither have been diagnosed with coronavirus. The student’s mother may have come into contact with the virus at work; a man in his 60s in Manatee County was in the hospital for five days before he was tested and eventually diagnosed with the disease.

The event with Pence was covered and first noted by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

A spokeswoman from the White House could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A reporter asked Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference in Miami on Monday whether Pence was exposed on his visit to Sarasota. The vice president was in town for a fundraiser at Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s house. DeSantis appeared surprised at the question and chuckled.

“No I don’t think so,” he said.

In general, DeSantis has said, younger people tend to fare better with the virus than older people or those with pre-existing medical issues, who are more susceptible to severe symptoms. Those who are in direct contact with a person diagnosed with the disease are in the greatest danger of falling ill. Doctors in Florida have emphasized that the risk to the general public remains low.

Related: Class goes on at Sarasota Military Academy after coronavirus contact

Coronavirus is primarily spread through person-to-person contact. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it may also be spread if someone touches a surface with the virus, then touches their mouth, nose or potentially eyes, but that is not thought to be the main means of transmission.

Bowman said Pence shook some of the cadets’ hands last week.

She said the school has not canceled classes or instructed any other students to stay home.

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus guide

Q&A: What you need to know after Florida’s first positive coronavirus cases.

PROTECT YOURSELF: Household cleaners can kill the virus on most surfaces, including your phone screen.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

FACE MASKS: They offer some protection, but studies debate their effectiveness.

WORKPLACE RISK: A list of five things employers could be doing to help curb the spread of the disease.

READER BEWARE: Look out for bad information as false claims are spreading online.

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.