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Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence no longer plans to attend the Senate's final confirmation vote for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Pence aide confirmed to CNN and Politico on Monday. On Sunday, Senate Democrats claimed that his presence after possible exposure to the coronavirus would be a "violation of common decency."

Driving the news: Five of Pence's aides were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, including his chief of staff, who is currently quarantining. Pence has continued his campaign travel despite his possible exposure, which goes against CDC guidelines.

  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday that Pence was putting others at risk by traveling.

The big picture: Barrett's confirmation is not in doubt because Republicans have the votes to confirm her, so Pence's presence would be mostly symbolic — though he would cast a tie-breaking vote if necessary.

What they're saying: “Vice President Pence is campaigning in Minnesota today. The VP is not planning to be at the Senate tonight unless his vote is needed,” a Pence aide told CNN and Politico in a statement.

  • Pence's office and the White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

The other side: "Not only would your presence in the Senate chamber tomorrow be a clear violation of [CDC] guidelines, it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy," Senate Democrats said in a letter on Sunday.

  • "Your presence alone could be very dangerous to many people — not just senators, but to all the truly essential staff — both Democratic and Republican — who must be physically present inside the U.S. Capitol for it to function."
  • "Nothing about your presence in the Senate tomorrow can be considered essential. You will not need to cast the deciding vote to break a tie. Your presence tomorrow would be purely ceremonial."

Flashback: "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.

  • Aides to Pence said the vice president and his wife both tested negative on Sunday.
  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that Pence's attendance was "in flux" on Monday morning.

Read the letter.

This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Vice President Mike Pence no longer plans to attend Amy Coney Barrett's final confirmation vote.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.