May 8 (UPI) -- Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary tested positive for the coronavirus disease, the White House said Friday, a day after reporting a personal valet to President Donald Trump had been diagnosed.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced the positive case as Pence was preparing to fly to Iowa for a meeting to discuss the effect of the pandemic on churches and the food supply.
Pence's departure from Andrews Air Force Base was delayed for an hour and took off after two staffers left the aircraft.
Trump addressed the news during a meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House.
"She's a wonderful young woman, Katie," he told reporters. "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."
Trump said after the valet's diagnosis on Thursday that he and Pence would begin taking daily tests. They have tested negative.
In New York on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he feels for the first time the state is finally ahead of the virus.
"We have the beast on the run, there's no doubt about that," he said. "We haven't killed the beast, but we're ahead of it."
The daily death toll in New York has been slowing for weeks. On Friday it was slightly over 21,000 out of 328,000 cases in the state.
"We would have hoped to see a steady sharp decline in those numbers," Cuomo said. "We went up very quickly. That's not what's happening... it's more flattening out."
The governor also said dozens of New York children have come down with a mysterious illness connected to COVID-19, with symptoms similar to those of Kawaski disease and toxic shock syndrome. A 5-year-old New York City boy has died.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised residents for cooperating with restrictions and said it helped stem the virus' spread.
"The trends are clear, the hard work is paying off," he said, adding that the number of new hospital admissions are way down from March.
"Now it's time to go on the offensive," he said, announcing the "Test and Trace Corps," an effort by the city's public hospitals to increase testing to 50,000 per day in the coming months.
The goal, de Blasio said, is to marshal 2,500 "foot soldiers" by next month to carry out an unprecedented campaign of case investigation, contact tracing and data management.
In Florida, Democratic lawmakers raised "grave concerns" with Gov. Ron DeSantis' plan to reopen the state and urged him to prioritize residents' health and safety "above all else."
In a letter to DeSantis signed by nine of Florida's 13 House Democrats, they questioned the governor's "troubling pattern" of delaying or resisting precautionary measures during the health crisis. Florida was one of the last states to impose a stay-home order in March.
The first phase of DeSantis' reopening plan began Monday, under which restaurants and retail shops can operate at 25 percent capacity. Business in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, however, has not yet been allowed to resume.
Delta Air Lines said Friday it's begun using electrostatic sprayers to sanitize all planes. The carrier started using the sprayers in February on U.S.-bound flights from Asia and the practice has since been expanded to international flights.
"Our customers can fly with confidence knowing that, on every Delta flight, the cabin has been sanitized top to bottom, interior surfaces and common areas have been thoroughly cleaned and Delta team members have confirmed the aircraft meets our cleanliness standards before boarding ever begins," said Delta Senior Vice President Eric Phillips.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday he's hopeful beaches along the popular Jersey Shore will reopen by Memorial Day weekend. The state has the second-most number of cases nationally.
Murphy said previous reopenings of golf courses and parks are being used to "war game" whether the New Jersey's extensive beaches can open.
In Philadelphia, protesters planned to rally at City Hall on Friday against stay-home orders, which have been extended to June 4.
Mayor Jim Kenney urged protesters to wear masks and said he won't "sacrifice people's lives" to reopen the city.
"You can't set a timeline," Kenney said this week. "The timeline is what the virus dictates. We certainly have target things we'd like to see happen, but unless the data indicates that it's safe, then it's not safe."