Trump campaign emails fundraiser attendees and notifies them of the President’s Covid-19 diagnosis
From CNN’s Paul P. Murphy
The Trump campaign has notified attendees of Thursday’s fundraiser at his Bedminster golf club that the President has tested positive for coronavirus.
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“We unfortunately write today to notify you that, as you have probably seen, President Trump confirmed late last night that he and the First Lady were tested for COVID-19 and produced positive test results,” the email reads. “Out of an abundance of caution, we want to call this to your attention.”
The email reiterated that attendees were not allowed within six feet of the President, per the campaign’s protocol.
The email went on to encourage attendees to contact their medical provider if they or their loved ones develop Covid-19 symptoms. It did not make any mention of quarantining or self-isolation but did recommend attendees visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
The email was sent early Friday afternoon.
14 min ago
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un hopes Trump will recover “as soon as possible”
From CNN’s Luke Henderson
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent “warm greetings” and a message of sympathy to President Trump after he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19, according to North Korean state news agency KCNA.
Kim said he “sincerely hoped they would be recovered as soon as possible” and “he hoped they will surely overcome” the disease, KCNA reported.
The message was sent prior to Trump taking Marine One to Walter Reed medical center for Covid-19 symptoms.
28 min ago
“Everyone needs to be tested” who was near Trump, infectious diseases chief says
From CNN’s Maggie Fox
Anyone who has been in President Trump’s inner circle should be tested for coronavirus infection and should not decide they’re clear just because they have tested negative for the virus one time, an infectious diseases chief said Friday.
Dr. John Mellors, head of infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said he would expect more people associated with Trump to test positive for coronavirus in the coming days.
“If both Melania and the President are infected, there will be other cases within the inner circle,” Mellors told CNN. “The President and his cabinet and the top levels of government really need to pay attention here.”
Mellors added: “Everybody needs to be tested. Everybody who has had contact with him needs to be tested.”
One negative coronavirus test does not mean people should not quarantine or take other precautions to protect those around them, Mellors added. Tests are not 100% accurate.
“They ought to do some very quick contact tracing and isolation to stop the spread in the government,” said Mellors, one of the world’s top experts in the treatment and spread of the AIDS virus, who has helped organize UPMC’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“They are going to have to follow the science now. They should have followed it all along,” Mellors added. “This is an absolute wakeup call. Stop fiddling around and making this a political issue. Wear the masks. They work. It’s that simple. There should be federal and state mandates to wear a mask.”
Mellors also disputed White House physician Dr. Jesse Schonau’s statement that Vice President Mike Pence has tested negative for coronavirus and thus does not need to quarantine because Pence was not a close contact of anyone infected.
“If he was in the Oval Office with Trump in the last week, then he was exposed,” Mellors said.
40 min ago
White House Coronavirus Task Force is “in the dark” on President’s health, source says
From CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta
A source on the White House Coronavirus Task Force tells CNN that they are “in the dark” on the President’s health developments.
UPDATE, 6:38 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 2020
Trump tweets for the first time since revealing Covid-19 diagnosis
In his first tweet since announcing he had tested positive for Covid-19, President Trump shared words of thanks and encouragement during a short 18-second long video.
“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support,” Trump said in a video posted on his official Twitter account. “I think I’m doing very well but we’re going to make sure things work out.”
Watch the video:
UPDATE, 6:28 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 20201 min ago
President Trump spooked by coronavirus diagnosis, source says
From CNN’s Kaitlan Collins
President Trump was spooked after he tested positive for coronavirus and has become increasingly alarmed by his diagnosis as he developed symptoms, like a fever, overnight, according to a person familiar with his reaction.
3 min ago
President Trump has arrived at Walter Reed medical center
President Donald Trump is at a military hospital outside Washington, DC, after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
Trump arrived at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland moments ago.
UPDATE, 6:19 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 20202 min ago
Trump has boarded Marine One
From CNN’s Betsy Klein
President Donald Trump walked out of the residence of the White House at 6:16 p.m. wearing a mask and a suit. He waved to the media but did not stop to talk.
Chief of staff Mark Meadows, also in a mask, followed.
He boarded Marine One at 6:17 p.m.
What the South Lawn of the White House looked like ahead of Trump’s departure
CNN’s Jim Acosta snapped a photo of press secretary Kayleigh McEnany wearing a mask ahead of the President’s departure from the White House this afternoon aboard Marine One.
She is standing with a group of people in the back of the photo.
UPDATE, 6:12 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 20203 min ago
Obama sends his “best wishes” to President Trump
From CNN’s Jasmine Wright
Former President Barack Obama gave his “best wishes” to President Trump and first lady Melania Trump as they were diagnosed with Covid-19, during a virtual fundraiser with Kamala Harris for the Biden-Harris campaign.
“Let me start by the way, by just stating that we’re in the midst of a big political fight. And we take that very seriously. We also want to extend our best wishes, to Trump and Melania,” he said.
“Michelle and I are hopeful that they and others who have been affected by COVID-19 around the country are getting the care that they need, that they are going to be on the path to a speedy recovery,” Obama said.
“And it’s important I think for all of us to remember that even when we’re in the midst of big political battles with issues that have a lot at stake, that we’re all Americans, and we’re all human beings,” he added, “hoping that we can all be healthy.”
UPDATE, 6:02 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 20201 min ago
Eric Trump calls father “a true warrior”
From CNN’s DJ Judd
The President’s middle son, Eric Trump, just tweeted that his father is “a true warrior,” asking supporters for prayers.
“He will fight through this with the same strength and conviction that he uses to fight for America each and every day,” he tweeted.
See his full tweet:
6 min ago
Biden campaign is taking down all negative ads following Trump’s diagnosis
From CNN’s Sarah Mucha
Joe Biden’s campaign is pulling all negative ads today, going all positive after President Trump was diagnosed with Covid-19, a campaign aide told CNN.
This decision was made before the White House announced that Trump will go to Walter Reed medical center.
The news was first reported by the New York Times.
UPDATE, 5:55 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 2020
2 min ago
Congress “Gang of Eight” not briefed on Trump’s health
From CNN’s Manu Raju
The Gang of Eight — made up of top leaders from Congress and top lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees — have not been briefed on President Trump’s health, according to two sources familiar.
The Gang of Eight typically gets briefed on classified intelligence and national security matters, the sources added.
UPDATE, 5:48 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 20201 min ago
There will be no transfer of power, White House says
From Betsy Klein, Kaitlan Collins and Jim Acosta
White House communications aide Alyssa Farah tells CNN there will be no transfer of power.
“The President is in charge,” she said.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere added, “absolutely not,” when asked if there would be a transfer.
Vice President Mike Pence meanwhile is at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, the official residence of the vice president, according to an administration official.
The official says he remains in good health.
UPDATE, 5:40P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 20201 min ago
Trump will be spending “the next few days” at Walter Reed hospital
President Trump will be spending “the next few days” at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
McEnany said in a statement that Trump “remains in good spirts, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day.”
The President, she said, “will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed.”
6 min ago
Marine One has landed at the White House
Marine One has landed on the White House lawn to transport President Trump to Walter Reed Medical Center.
“President Trump remains in good spirts, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. “Trump will be headed to Walter Reed Medical Center shortly — Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days. President Trump appreciates the outpouring of support for both he and the First Lady.”
5 min ago
How to minimize risk when the President travels to Walter Reed hospital
From CNN’s Betsy Klein
In the event the President travels aboard Marine One while he has coronavirus, there are ways to minimize exposure to the virus of the other key staff aboard.
The front cabin of Marine One, former US Secret Service agent and CNN contributor Jonathan Wackrow said, can be closed, which would include the pilot and crew chief. The crew can also operate on supplemental air, Wackrow said.
USSS agents traveling with the President would have to wear N95 medical-grade masks and other personal protective equipment to prevent inhalation.
It’s always safer for a president to travel via helicopter than in a motorcade for a variety of reasons, Wackrow said, minimizing the risk of a crash with an errant vehicle or a coordinated attack.
Separately, the medical unit has “advanced medical capabilities” at the White House and is prepared for a variety of medical care situations.
But, Wackrow said, their capabilities are typically predicated upon trauma situations, not advanced acute care. While it’s possible to perform something like thoracic surgery in the event of a bullet wound, there are certainly situations where a President would need to be transported to another facility for medical care for a more focused diagnosis – for just one example, a chest X-ray.
Trump to head to Walter Reed hospital following Covid-19 diagnosis
From CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Brian Rokus
President Trump is headed to Walter Reed Medical Center, according to a White House pool report.
Trump has had a fever since this morning, a person familiar with the matter says. The person said the fever remains consistent with the White House’s earlier description of “mild symptoms.”
This is in addition to new information released by the White House doctor, which described Trump as “fatigued.”
Trump announced on Twitter he tested positive for coronavirus early Friday morning.
“President Trump remains in good spirits, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. “Trump will be headed to Walter Reed Medical Center shortly — Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days. President Trump appreciates the outpouring of support for both he and the First Lady.”
Trump was also administered a dose of Regeneron, according to a memorandum from the President’s physician. “As of this afternoon the President remains fatigued but in good spirits. He’s being evaluated by a team of experts, and together we’ll be making recommendations to the President and First Lady in regards to next best steps,” the physician writes.
The memo also says first lady Melania Trump remains well with only a mild cough and headache, and the remainder of the first family are well and tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 today.
President Trump has had a fever since this morning
From CNN’s Kevin Liptak
President Trump has had a fever since this morning, a person familiar with the matter says. The person said the fever remains consistent with the White House’s earlier description of “mild symptoms.”
This is in addition to new information released by the White House doctor, which described Trump as “fatigued.”
Trump announced on Twitter he tested positive for coronavirus early Friday morning.
23 min ago
Trump has been administered experimental treatment as a “precautionary measure”
President Trump has been administered a dose of experimental Regeneron treatment, according to a memorandum from the President’s physician.
“As of this afternoon the President remains fatigued but in good spirits. He’s being evaluated by a team of experts, and together we’ll be making recommendations to the President and First Lady in regards to next best steps,” the physician writes.
The memo also says first lady Melania Trump remains well with only a mild cough and headache, and the remainder of the First Family are well and tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 today.
Here’s what the memo said:
“I release the following information with the Permission of President Donald J. Trump. Following PCR-confirmation of the President’s diagnosis, as a precautionary measure he received a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail. He completed the infusion without incident. In addition to the polyclonal antibodies, the President has been taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin. As of this afternoon the President remains fatigued but in good spirits. He’s being evaluated by a team of experts, and together we’ll be making recommendations to the President and First Lady in regards to next best steps. First Lady Melania Trump remains well with only a mild cough and headache, and the remainder of the First Family are well and tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 today.”
Regeneron is a biotechnology company whose Covid antibody drug is currently in phase 3 trials. You can read more about the trial here.
27 min ago
President Trump and first lady’s Covid-19 cases will be counted in Florida
From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers
President Trump’s and first lady Melania Trump’s coronavirus infections will be counted in Florida, not Washington, DC, a DC government official told CNN.
Washington is not their permanent home; Florida is, the official said.
The District of Columbia “only includes its own residents within its case total,” LaToya Foster, communications director for DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, told CNN via email.
The Florida Department of Health said it was “unable to comment on specific epidemiological investigations,” but said cases are recorded according “to an individual’s self-reported permanent residency.”
Trump and the first lady changed their permanent residence to Palm Beach, Florida, last year.
“The White House physician will do their own contact tracing and provide guidance to impacted individuals as has been the practice throughout the pandemic,” Foster said.
UPDATE, 4:25 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 2020
11 min ago
Nancy Pelosi tests negative for Covid-19
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested negative for Covid-19, her deputy chief of Staff Drew Hammill confirmed in a tweet.
Earlier Pelosi said she got tested out of “an abundance of caution” after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week to discuss a potential stimulus bill. Prior to their meeting, Mnuchin had met with President Trump, who has now tested positive for coronavirus, in the Oval Office.
Read the tweet below:
16 min ago
President would be transferred to Walter Reed if critical care was needed, source says
From CNN’s Nadia Kounang
Much of the President’s care for Covid-19 can be managed at the White House, a source familiar with the White House Medical Unit said.
However, if the President did require critical care – for example, if he required intubation or proning, where a patient is positioned on his stomach – he would likely then be moved to the presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the source said.
The source also added the unit is responsible for contact tracing involving the first and second families, as well as cabinet officials and senior administration officials, all of which are overseen by the unit.
24 min ago
Experimental drugs are an option for Trump if needed, says source close to White House Medical Unit
From CNN’s Nadia Kounang
Treatment for the President could include experimental drugs that have not yet received emergency authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration and are unavailable to the general public, according to a source familiar with the White House Medical Unit.
Instead of enrolling in a trial or going through a compassionate use program, the source noted that the WHMU would likely work to obtain those drugs through already-established relationships.
These drugs could be available to the President, but that does not mean they will be necessary.
Current treatments for Covid-19 are limited. There are three that have received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA: the antiviral remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone and convalescent plasma, which is donated by people who recovered from the coronavirus.
According to the FDA, an EUA allows “unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions” from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat agents “when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.”
37 min ago
White House economic adviser says Trump has a “very moderate case”
From CNN’s Betsy Klein
It’s unclear whether he misspoke, but White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who this morning described Trump’s coronavirus as “mild,” this afternoon described Trump as having a “very moderate case,” but said he was doing “just fine.”
“The reports are, the chief says they’re doing well. It is a very moderate case. The President was kind of barking out orders for all of us, giving us tasks this morning to follow through. He’s on the phone so I have not seen him. I last spoke to him last evening, I had not talked to him today, but apparently he’s doing just fine,” Kudlow said during an appearance on Fox News.
He declined to say what time Trump was “barking out orders,” saying that he is an “early riser, as a general rule.”
Kudlow reiterated there was continuity of government: “We’re going about our business. The government is functioning, there’s no question about that. And we just hope for a speedy recovery in the residence,” he said.
Kudlow graded Friday’s jobs report as an “A-minus” and reiterated much of what he said about the stimulus bill earlier this morning.
“We’re in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion, it’s not precise, but we’re in that neighborhood, and we’re still way, way below where the other side is. Look, you know, we don’t need a gigantic humongous bill. I mean with all respect I know there’s political differences and ideological differences, but we can really do that another time,” he said, calling for deals in “targeted key areas.”
Money for states, he said, is still an area of “considerable disagreement,” adding that that should be done “later.”
UPDATE, 3:35 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 20201 min ago
Congressman present at Tuesday’s debate tests negative for Covid-19
From CNN’s Sarah Mucha
Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, who attended Tuesday’s presidential debate, said he has tested negative for Covid-19.
“I tested negative today for COVID-19. Please continue to wear a mask and social distance,” Gallego tweeted.
Read the tweet:
4 min ago
Biden official on campaign’s decision to go ahead with Michigan trip
From CNN’s MJ Lee
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden decided to go ahead with his campaign travel to Michigan this morning after getting back a negative Covid-19 test.
Three days ago Biden shared a debate stage with Donald Trump – who has now tested positive for Covid-19 – and while their podiums on debate night were more than socially distanced (CNN’s Dan Merica reported more than 12 feet apart), they were still indoors in a room that had dozens of people in the audience.
Some of those people, including members of Trump’s family, were not masked.
Pressed on the thinking behind their decision to go ahead with the Michigan trip today after the negative Covid-19 test, a Biden official said:
“Vice President Biden tested negative and was not in close contact with President Trump. He also wore a mask at all times, except for when he was on stage. And we implement social distancing, mask wearing, and other best practices in all of our campaigning.”
24 min ago
Rudy Giuliani tests negative for Covid-19
From CNN’s Michael Warren
Christianné Allen, the spokesperson for Rudy Giuliani, just confirmed that the former New York City mayor and President Trump’s lawyer has tested negative for coronavirus.
Earlier she confirmed that Giuliani is in New York and was quarantining there while he awaited his results.
34 min ago
Cleveland Clinic confirms not all presidential debate attendees wore masks
From CNN’s Nadia Kounang
The Cleveland Clinic, that advises the Commission on Presidential Debates, confirmed that not all individuals adhered to mask wearing requirements during Tuesday’s presidential debate.
“Individuals entering the debate hall were masked and in some cases removed their masks once seated,” the medical center said in a statement. “A Cleveland Clinic physician did offer audience members masks, but some did not adhere to the requirement.”
In an earlier statement on Friday, the Cleveland Clinic said it believes there is a “low risk of exposure to our guests,” and it had safety requirements that align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, “including social distancing, hand sanitizing, temperature checks and masking.
“Most importantly, everyone permitted inside the debate hall tested negative for Covid-19 prior to entry. Individuals traveling with both candidates, including the candidates themselves, had been tested, and tested negative by their respective campaigns,” the organization said.
The Cleveland Clinic has not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment about when or how attendees were tested.
UPDATE, 2:45 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 202011 min ago
Mike Pence’s doctor says he “remains in good health and is free to go about his normal activities”
From CNN’s Nikki Carvajal and Maggie Fox
Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for Covid-19 and does not need to quarantine, his physician said in a memo Friday.
Pence tested negative Friday morning, Dr. Jesse T. Schonau said in a statement, confirming a tweet from the vice president’s office earlier in the day.
“Under the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Vice President is not considered a close contact with any individuals who have tested positive for Covid, including President Donald J. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence does not need to quarantine,” the statement said. “Vice President Mike Pence remains in good health and is free to go about his normal activities.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance is that close contact is defined as a person standing within six feet or closer for 15 minutes or more.
The statement from Pence’s doctor implies the vice president hasn’t been in close range of the President, or anyone else who has tested positive at the White House, at a rally or on a stage.
CNN has reported that Pence was in the Oval Office with the President on Tuesday.
Pence is still planning on traveling to Salt Lake City Monday ahead of his scheduled debate with Sen. Kamala Harris Wednesday, an administration official told CNN.
In a memo released moments ago, his physician says he does not need to quarantine because he was not considered a close contact with President Trump.
24 min ago
University of Utah still planning to host the vice presidential debate next week
From CNN’s Ryan Nobles
Shawn Wood, the community liaison and communications specialist for the University of Utah, told CNN that the school is still moving forward with plans to hold the vice presidential debate there on Wednesday.
“We are still planning to hold the event here on Wednesday and will continue to do so until we hear otherwise,” Wood said.
At this point, the Commission on Presidential Debates has not responded to repeated inquiries as to whether or not plans for future debates will change as a result of the President’s Covid-19 diagnosis.
As of today, both Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris have tested negative and the Trump campaign says Pence will continue his campaign duties as normal.
29 min ago
South Dakota governor attended closed-press fundraiser with Trump this week
From CNN’s Samira Said and Kay Jones
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem attended the closed-press fundraiser in Minneapolis with President Trump on Wednesday, her spokesperson, Ian Fury, told CNN on Friday.
When asked if the governor would get tested for Covid-19 due to the President’s positive test, Fury told CNN in a statement that she tested negative on Tuesday night, the evening prior to the event.
“She is not in close contact of anyone who has tested positive, including the President,” Fury said in a statement. “As she has throughout this pandemic, the Governor monitors her symptoms on a daily basis and is tested regularly.“
On Monday, Noem announced that she will be calling a special session of the state legislature to meet on Oct. 5. The purpose is to consider legislations related to the use of Coronavirus Relief Funds, a press release issued by the state said.
35 min ago
Trump is making calls and will appear publicly at some point, White House press secretary says
From CNN’s Betsy Klein
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany reiterated that President Trump is “in very good spirits and having mild symptoms,” but is making calls from the White House residence and will appear publicly in some capacity in the coming days.
“We’re having to hold him back a little here, because he’s hard at work. He spoke to Sen. McConnell today, Sen. Graham, I just spoke with the chief of staff and President Trump has talked to him about emergency declarations and stimulus. So we’re just trying to make sure that he takes it easy, but he is hard at work and will continue to,” she said during an appearance on Fox News.
She suggested that Trump will appear publicly in the coming days but declined to provide additional details.
“It’s safe to say that you’ll be seeing and hearing from the President as he moves forward with his working schedule. We’re exploring a number of different ways to do that. But he wants to talk to the American people. I can tell you this about President Trump: This man loves the American people, loves speaking to them directly. And nothing’s going to stop them from doing just that,” she said.
She was asked about a New York Times report questioning whether Trump should remain on the ballot, calling it a “ridiculous assertion.”
She said she didn’t know when the President was made aware of Hope Hicks’ diagnosis but Trump learned of his diagnosis last night and the tweet was put out “within an hour.
She said she was “unaware” of Hicks’ diagnosis but “immediately” when she got a positive result, contact tracing was put into place.
“Rest assured, we will always do what is in the best interest of the American people and those around, and I have confidence in the White House medical unit to make the right decisions as they did with Hope and with others,” she said.
McEnany couldn’t say that any protocols are changing at the White House in light of the news.
“We put in place safety procedures, the White Hose Correspondents’ Association has spaces between the chairs, we wear masks in the White House when we can’t socially distance. The president, we make sure we’re always six feet away and we stay away from each other. So we’ll go forward with those same procedures, and we believe that we will protect those here in the White House as we come to work, as we’re essential workers,” she said.
White House staffers, of course, have been observed largely eschewing masks and social distancing during public events.
40 min ago
Trump’s New Jersey fundraiser took place both indoors and outdoors yesterday
From CNN’s From Nikki Carvajal
President Trump’s trip to New Jersey for a fundraiser on Thursday was deemed safe by White House operations, the White House said Friday. However, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany falsely claimed it was an outdoor event.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reports the event took place both outside and indoors.
“It was deemed safe for the President to go. He socially distanced, it was an outdoor event and it was deemed safe,” McEnany told reporters during a very brief Q&A at the White House.
Asked who made the call, she responded that “White House operations made the assessment that it was safe for the President in consultation with others.”
The press secretary refused to get into specifics about what kind of test Trump took for his diagnosis, but said that “within an hour we put out that information to the American people.” Likewise, she wouldn’t detail the President’s exact symptoms.
Confirming CNN’s previous reporting, McEnany claimed she did not know about Hope Hicks’ positive Covid-19 diagnosis before yesterday’s press briefing.
McEnany also said Trump has spoken with Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lindsay Graham Friday about stimulus negotiations.
43 min ago
Additional journalist tests positive for Covid-19, according to new WHCA memo
From CNN’s Brian Stelter
On Friday afternoon, shortly after the White House press corps were notified that one journalist and one White House staffer who works with the media had tested positive for Covid-19, a follow-up memo carried word of another case of a sick journalist.
This means that two White House reporters have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent days.
The new memo, from the White House Correspondents Association board, at 1:33 p.m. ET, said:
“We are writing to let you know that another member of our press corps tested positive today for COVID-19. This individual was last at the White House on Saturday and subsequently traveled on Air Force One to Pennsylvania. The individual began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms yesterday.”
Saturday was the day of the Supreme Court announcement at the White House and Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania
46 min ago
White House official says not to read too much into Trump missing scheduled call
From CNN’s Betsy Klein
A White House official downplayed the President missing a 12:15 p.m. call on his public schedule, calling it a “slight” change.
“You shouldn’t read too much into a slight schedule change. As Kayleigh noted, the President is hard at work and has been working the phones all day from the residence talking to the Chief of Staff, Leader McConnell, Senator Graham, and others,” the official told CNN.
But all events were removed from Trump’s public schedule, with the exception of that call, in updated daily guidance that was released following his diagnosis at 1:11 am.
Instead, Vice President Mike Pence led the call on protecting America’s seniors. Pence did not provide an explanation for Trump’s absence on the call beyond the initial diagnosis, but said Trump was “well.”
52 min ago
All planned Trump events are being postponed or going virtual, campaign says
From CNN’s Betsy Klein
The Trump campaign says all the President’s planned events are being postponed or going virtual.
Here’s what Bill Stepien, Trump 2020 campaign manager, wrote in a statement:
“All previously announced campaign events involving the President’s participation are in the process of being moved to virtual events or are being temporarily postponed. In addition, previously announced events involving members of the First Family are also being temporarily postponed. All other campaign events will be considered on a case-by-case basis and we will make any relevant announcements in the days ahead. Vice President Mike Pence, who has tested negative for Covid-19, plans on resuming his scheduled campaign events. Any further information about the President will come from the White House.”
47 min ago
Calls ramp up for widespread testing on Capitol Hill
From CNN’s Lauren Fox and Ted Barrett
The last 12 hours have served as a frightening reminder of just how vulnerable Capitol Hill is when it comes to coronavirus. And lawmakers are once again calling for their leadership to implement a wide-ranging testing plan to ensure the safety of not only members, but workers and aides at the Capitol complex.
Sen. Mike Lee’s positive coronavirus diagnosis – his proximity to SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barret, his participation in GOP lunches and attendance at the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Thursday – is just the latest reminder that Capitol Hill is not immune from the threat of this virus. The way that the massive complex operates can leave it more susceptible to outbreaks.
For months, Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri and chairman of the Rules Committee, has been arguing to his colleagues and Democratic and Republican leaders that the Capitol must implement a testing plan to protect staff and members. But, those calls have often fallen on deaf ears as leaders have raised concerns about the optics of Congress being regularly tested when Americans across the country have complained of long delays in getting their results.
Now, however, multiple members tell CNN that something needs to be done.
Asked if it was time for a wide-spread testing plan, one Democratic senator immediately texted CNN back, “YES.” Asked if they had talked to leadership about it, the person responded “just did.”
A Republican senator told CNN that the Senate “probably needs some kind of new procedures” in how it operates.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier today that the President’s diagnosis was evidence that “the Senate needs a testing and contract tracing program for Senators, staff and all who work in the Capitol complex.”
“We simply cannot allow the administration’s cavalier attitude to adversely affect this branch of government. It is imperative that all results be made public in order to contain a possible outbreak and so we can determine the need for Senators and staff to quarantine or self-isolate,” Schumer said.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN that he talked to Pelosi this morning about a testing regimen, “but we haven’t made a decision on that.”
Hoyer said a decision could be made before lawmakers return after the election.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly pushed for testing at the Capitol and publicly disagreed with Pelosi and McConnell when they turned down rapid testing from the White House in the spring.
“With so many bodies coming in and out of here, I don’t understand why the Speaker would continue to not have testing, McCarthy told reporters Friday.
Other members have argued that it is up to individual members to get tested on their own.
“Everybody should be tested on a regular basis, but we can be tested in our local areas,” Rep. Donna Shalala, a Democrat from Florida, told reporters Friday during votes.
1 hr 5 min ago
Notre Dame president tests positive after not wearing a mask during SCOTUS event
From CNN’s Hollie Silverman and Melissa Alonso
Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins has tested positive for Covid-19, according to a message from the school sent to members of the Campus Community Friday afternoon.
The message said Jenkins was in self-quarantine after a colleague who he was in contact with tested positive.
“Fr Jenkins was tested and found to be positive for COVID-19 too. As a result, he is entering an extended period of isolation as indicated by University medical personnel and county health officials,” the message said.
“My symptoms are mild, and I will continue work from home,” Jenkins said in a statement. “The positive test is a good reminder for me and perhaps for all of how vigilant we need to be.”
The University declined to make further comment.
He was seen at the announcement shaking hands and not wearing a mask.
“I know many of you have read about the White House ceremony I recently attended. I write to express my regret for certain choices I made that day and for failing to lead as I should have,” Jenkins said in the letter.
“When I arrived at the White House, a medical professional took me to an exam room to obtain a nasal swab for a rapid COVID-19 test. I was then directed to a room with others, all fully masked, until we were notified that we had all tested negative and were told that it was safe to remove our masks,” he explained. “We were then escorted to the Rose Garden, where I was seated with others who also had just been tested and received negative results.”
“I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,” Jenkins added.
1 hr 13 min ago
Trump’s SCOTUS pick was diagnosed with coronavirus this summer and recovered
From CNN’s Jessica Schneider, Kristen Holmes and Jim Acosta
President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was diagnosed with coronavirus late this summer but has recovered, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
Barrett and her husband Jessee were diagnosed. Jesse Barrett was asymptomatic but Amy Barrett felt “a little under the weather but recovered,” one of the sources said.
Barrett tested negative for coronavirus on Friday, according to White House spokesperson Judd Deere.
He added that Barrett, who is tested daily, is following CDC guidance and was last with the President on Saturday when she was officially nominated.
UPDATE, 1:25 P.M. FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 2020
Two more Covid-19 cases reported at the White House, according to memo
From CNN’s Brian Stelter
An internal memo from the White House Correspondents Association board to reporters says there are “two additional cases of COVID-19 at the White House.”
The memo, obtained by CNN’s Brian Stelter, says members of the media are being notified “so that you can make informed judgements.”
A journalist who was tested “as part of today’s in-house pool” received a preliminary positive result. And a White House staffer who sits in the “lower press” area of the West Wing received a confirmed positive result on Friday morning.
“All other journalists tested today tested negative,” according to the memo.
The correspondents association board said “we can’t stress enough the importance of mask-wearing, social distancing and common sense, especially on the White House complex.”
“Additionally,” the board said, “we are again asking journalists who are not in the pool and do not have an enclosed workspace to refrain from working out of the White House at this time.”
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the correspondents association has taken a more proactive position than the Trump administration and has encouraged journalists to take common sense precautions while covering the administration.
12 min ago
Fauci postpones scheduled coronavirus event
From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, postponed a scheduled coronavirus webcast Friday after President Trump tested positive for Covid-19.
Fauci had been scheduled to take part in a Survivor Corps webinar with Diana Berrent, who founded the Covid-19 advocacy group, at 2 p.m. ET on Friday.
Survivor Corps is a “grassroots community” of Covid-19 survivors who educate and support each other “while advocating for convalescent plasma donation and engagement in scientific trials and medical studies to help stem the tide of the pandemic and assist in the national recovery,” the group’s website says.
Survivor Corps tells CNN they will announce a new date for the event soon.
17 min ago
Pence says Trump is “well at this time”
From CNN’s Betsy Klein
Vice President Mike Pence led a call on protecting America’s seniors on Friday afternoon after President Trump tested positive for coronavirus.
Trump had been set to dial into the call, according to guidance released after his diagnosis that eliminated all of his other public events. Pence did not provide an explanation for Trump’s absence on the call beyond the initial diagnosis, but said Trump was “well.”
“I know many of you were expecting to hear from President Trump today, but as I’m sure you are all aware, President Trump and the first lady tested positives for Covid-19 yesterday and as the White House physician confirmed last night, pleased to report President Trump and the First Lady are both well at this time. They will remain at the White House while they convalesce,” Pence said, according to audio of the call obtained by CNN.
He continued, “But the President asked me to take this call today with Secretary Alex Azar and other team members of our teams, first and foremost, to say thank you.”
Pence was speaking to state and local officials, as well as nursing home and assisted living officials, health administrators, and senior advocate organization members.
The White House has not responded to multiple requests for comment from CNN on why the President did not dial in.
22 min ago
WHO sends “prayers” to Trumps, but won’t comment on diagnosis
From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said his prayers are with the President and first lady following their Covid-19 diagnosis.
“Overnight, we heard that the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, and First Lady Melania Trump, tested positive for Covid-19. I want to start today by wishing them both a full and swift recovery. Our prayers are with them,” Tedros said during a media briefing.
Later in the briefing, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said, “We don’t generally comment on the behavior of any specific individual, and we don’t know of risk management measures were in place around any given individual – especially someone as prominent as a president.”
“Each and every individual, and each and every citizen, should be guided by the national guidance in their country,” Ryan said.
Washing hands, staying a safe distance from each other, avoiding crowded spaces, wearing a mask – these are “the best way to protect society,” he said.
“We will not comment on the specific risk management measures or behavior of a specific individual. We are a community. We need to get through this together. This is not the time to turn on each other,” he added.
25 min ago
Negative Covid-19 tests for Pence and Trump family members aren’t “get out of jail free cards,” expert says
From CNN’s Maggie Fox
Vice President Mike Pence, as well as various Trump family members – including Trump’s son Barron and daughter Ivanka – may have just tested negative for coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean they are in the clear, one pathologist said Friday.
Dr. Alan Wells, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Clinical Labs, points out the rapid tests used to make quick daily diagnoses do not catch all cases, and any test performed too early will give a false negative.
People cannot test negative the day after an exposure and skip quarantine, Wells said in a statement sent to CNN.
“Testing isn’t a get out of jail free card,” he said.
44 min ago
Kamala Harris tests negative for Covid-19 again this morning
From CNN’s Jasmine Wright and MJ Lee
Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff both tested negative for Covid-19 this morning, according to an aide.
They will continue on their planned travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, and Greensboro, North Carolina, respectively.
Harris had tested negative yesterday as part of the campaign’s routine testing.
UPDATE: 12:20 p.m. FRIDAY:
Joe Biden tests negative for coronavirus
From CNN’s Sarah Mucha
Joe Biden has tested negative for coronavirus, according to Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the Bidens’ primary care physician.
“Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected. I am reporting this out in my capacity as both Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden’s primary care physician.”
Biden shared the debate stage with President Trump on Tuesday.
CDC director tested negative Tuesday and has had no close contact with Trump
From CNN’s Kristen Holmes and Nick Valencia
Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tested negative for Covid-19 on Tuesday and did not have “direct, close contact” with the President during the timeframe that would have resulted in an exposure, a CDC spokesperson said in a statement.
Read the full statement:
The president and first lady are in Dr. Redfield’s thoughts and prayers and he wishes them a speedy and complete recovery. Dr. Redfield did not have direct, close contact with the president or first lady in the timeframe that would have resulted in an exposure. Dr. Redfield’s most-recent COVID-19 test was Tuesday, Sept. 29th, and the result was negative. Core public health strategies – testing, isolation and contact tracing – underway in communities and institutions across the nation are critical tools to slowing the spread of the virus.
Exact distance between Trump and Biden podiums at debate was 12 feet, 8 inches
From CNN’s Dan Merica
Per a source with knowledge of the presidential debate set up, the distance between Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s podiums at Tuesday’s debate was 12 feet and 8 inches.
The debate’s Covid-19 measures: The candidates did not shake hands with each other during the debate and did not shake hands with the moderator. Biden nor Trump wore masks on stage.
According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, everyone attending the debate at Case Western Reserve University, would undergo testing for Covid-19 and follow other health safety protocols.
15 min ago
Senator Mike Lee tests positive for coronavirus
From CNN’s Lauren Fox and Phil Mattingly
Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah who met with Amy Coney Barrett Tuesday, has tested positive for coronavirus. He took the test yesterday and the results came back today, according to a statement he posted on Twitter.
In his tweet he makes a point of noting that he’ll be back in time for the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Barrett’s nomination.
Lee also attended the Supreme Court unveiling announcement on Saturday.
See his tweet:
16 min ago
Trump expected to talk with governors today
From CNN’s Sheena Jones
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said President Trump is expected to be on a governors call at noon today. Cuomo made the comment during the state’s Covid-19 news briefing.
The governor said if Trump is on this call it would be good news because Trump is still working.
Governors are supposed to be discussing Covid-19 with the President
33 min ago
Senate minority leader calls for testing and contact tracing for senators and staff
From CNN’s Phil Mattingly
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for a testing and contact tracing program for Senators and staff.
He said in a statement that the positive tests at the White House “demonstrates that the Senate needs a testing and contact tracing program for Senators, staff, and all who work in the Capitol complex. We simply cannot allow the administration’s cavalier attitude to adversely affect this branch of government.”
Schumer also said the administration needs to be transparent and follow the protocols that are in place.
“Though they have not done so in the past, the administration must now follow the science and all recommended health protocols in order to not put additional people at risk. And they must be completely transparent,” he said in the statement.
29 min ago
Melania Trump also experiencing mild symptoms
From CNN’s Kate Bennett
First lady Melania Trump tweets confirmed that she also has mild symptoms of coronavirus, but she added “overall feeling good.”
“Thank you for the love you are sending our way. I have mild symptoms but overall feeling good. I am looking forward to a speedy recovery,” Trump said on Twitter.
The White House has said that President Trump is also currently experiencing mild symptoms.
30 min ago
Defense secretary last saw Trump Sunday and has tested negative
From CNN’s Barbara Starr
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley tested negative for Covid-19 Friday and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was tested again Friday “as planned for continuation of his travel” after testing negative on Monday and Wednesday this week, according to Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman.
Esper is currently traveling in north Africa and Hoffman said he “will not be returning to the US early.”
“Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley last met with the President on Sunday at the White House Gold Star Families event,” Hoffman said in a statement.
The have been no changes to Department of Defense alert levels, Hoffman said.
“With regard to reports about E-6B aircraft on alert status, US STRATCOM has confirmed these E-6B aircraft were part of pre-planned missions,” he said. “Any timing to the president’s announcement was purely coincidental.”
“The Secretary, Mrs. Esper, Chairman Milley, and Mrs. Milley send their thoughts and prayers to the President and First Lady for a swift recovery,” Hoffman said.
“The Secretary has expressed his appreciation for the White House’s military medical team and is confident that they will ensure that the President and First Lady – like all members of our military family – will continue to receive the best medical care in the world,” he said.
35 min ago
Here’s why a negative test result is not a shield against Covid-19
“You can test negative one day and then test positive the next day, or even the same day, you can get two different results,” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent. “It’s why testing can only go so far.”
“They need to be quarantined. Not just tested, tested is nice, it’s important to have, but tests can come back false negative,” Gupta said. “Even on the day of the debate, test could have come back false negative. That’s why everyone has to behave like they have the virus.”
You are most contagious before you show symptoms of Covid-19
If Trump started showing symptoms on Thursday, it probably means that he was doing most of “the viral shedding in the couple three days before that,” Gupta said. “So now you’re going back to Tuesday or Monday in terms of contagiousness.”
As contact tracing gets underway at the highest levels of US government, Dr. Gupta says “we’re getting a look at what should have been happening in the country all along — this level of contact tracing, quarantining. If we would be doing this, it could have helped to curb this pandemic.”
1 hr 2 min ago
Meadows confirms the White House knew Hicks was positive before POTUS traveled
From CNN’s Betsy Klein and Kaitlan Collins
Pressed by CNN’s Joe Johns on the timing of when the White House learned Hope Hicks had tested positive, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows conceded that people knew of her positive diagnosis before Marine One took off for New Jersey on Thursday afternoon for a fundraiser.
Some staffers, he said, were pulled from Marine One, raising further questions about why the trip proceeded, the President coming into contact with numerous supporters at his Bedminster club.
“I’m not going to get into the tick tock. I can tell you, in terms of Hope Hicks, we discovered that right as the Marine One was taking off yesterday,” Meadows said. “We actually pulled some of the people that have been traveling and in close contact. The reason why it was reported out, just frankly, is that we had already started to contact tracing just prior to that event,” he said.
Multiple senior staffers told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins they did not learn of Hicks’ diagnosis until Thursday night, shortly before it was reported by Bloomberg News.
Meadows claimed that the White House acted quickly to inform the public of the President’s diagnosis.
“As you know, last night, even in the early hours of this morning, the minute we got a confirmatory test on the President, we felt like it was important to get the news out there at that time, and so that’s why we sent out a tweet late, late or early this morning,” he said.
Meadows said the White House has “protocols in place” to mitigate risks and make it easier for people to social distance, but regardless, the virus is still contagious.
“What you have is a virus that is contagious – that certainly continues to be regardless of whatever protocol we have, that it has the ability to affect everybody,” he said.
“I can tell you that what we’re doing is focusing on the therapeutics, the vaccines, continuing to do that, and that doesn’t change,” Meadows added.
Meadows declined to say whether President Trump, who tested positive for coronavirus, is taking hydroxychloroquine, a treatment he repeatedly touted despite questionable benefits. Trump, he reiterated, has “mild symptoms.
“Well, I’m not going to get into any particular treatment that he may or may not have but he has mild symptoms as we look at that the doctor will continue to provide expertise in the residence. He’s in the residence now, and in a true fashion he’s probably critiquing the way that I’m answering these questions,” Meadows said.
1 hr 4 min ago
McConnell says Trump in “good spirits”
From CNN’s Lauren Fox and Phil Mattingly
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he recently wrapped a phone call with President Trump and that he is in “good spirits,” adding that the pair “talked business.”
“Just finished a great phone call with @POTUS. He’s in good spirits and we talked business — especially how impressed Senators are with the qualifications of Judge Barrett. Full steam ahead with the fair, thorough, timely process that the nominee, the Court, & the country deserve,” McConnell wrote on Twitter.
UPDATE: 10:35 a.m. FRIDAY:
(CNN) – President Trump appeared tired over the course of Thursday prior to testing positive for coronavirus, according to people who interacted with him. However, he was not displaying severe symptoms of the disease.
A senior administration official said Friday that Trump wasn’t showing major symptoms and planned to work from the White House residence.
A person who yesterday attended his fundraiser in Bedminster, New Jersey, said he seemed subdued when speaking to a roundtable event and later to a group of supporters gathered outside.
The person said the assumption among the attendees was that Trump was exhausted from recent campaign travel.
Other people who interacted with Trump said his voice sounded hoarse, though the assumption before he tested positive was that it was because of his recent rallies.
Senate Majority Leader and Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell tweeted: “Happy to hear the White House physician’s report that @POTUS and @FLOTUS are feeling well following their positive tests for COVID-19. Let’s continue to pray today and every day for our President and our First Lady and for all those impacted by COVID-19.”
WASHINGTON (AP/WTVQ) — President Donald Trump said early Friday he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning announcement that plunges the country deeper into uncertainty just a month before the presidential election.
Trump, who has spent much of the year downplaying the threat of a virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans, said he and Mrs. Trump were quarantining. The White House physician said the president is expected to continue carrying out his duties “without disruption” while recovering.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear wished the president a speedy recovery and used it as an admonition to others.
“Waking up to the news the President & First Lady have tested positive for COVID-19. This virus is real and can impact anyone. Wear your mask, social distance and follow the guidelines. To the President, First Lady & everyone facing this virus – we hope for a quick recovery,” Beshear said in a tweet.
Trump’s opponent, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who will be tested later Friday, also sent prayers.
“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family,” Biden tweeted.
Trump’s diagnosis was sure to have a destabilizing effect in Washington, raising questions about how far the virus had spread through the highest levels of the U.S. government. Hours before Trump announced he had contracted the virus, the White House said a top aide who had traveled with him during the week had tested positive.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” Trump tweeted just before 1 A.M. “We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!
Trump was last seen by reporters returning to the White House on Thursday evening and did not appear visibly ill. Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide.
The president’s physician said in a memo that Trump and the first lady, who is 50, “are both well at this time” and “plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
The diagnosis marks a devastating blow for a president who has been trying desperately to convince the American public that the worst of the pandemic is behind them. In the best of cases, if he develops no symptoms, which can include fever, cough and breathing trouble, it will force him off the campaign trail just weeks before the election.
Trump’s handling of the pandemic has already been a major flashpoint in his race against Democrat Joe Biden, who spent much of the summer off the campaign trail and at his home in Delaware because of the virus. Biden has since resumed a more active campaign schedule, but with small, socially distanced crowds. He also regularly wears a mask in public, something Trump mocked him for at Tuesday night’s debate.
“I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said of Biden. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
There was no immediate comment from the Biden campaign on whether the former vice president had been tested since appearing at the debate with Trump or whether he was taking any additional safety protocols.
Trump had been scheduled to attend a fundraiser and hold another campaign rally in Sanford, Florida, on Friday evening. But just after 1 a.m., the White House released a revised schedule with only one event: a phone call on “COVID-19 support to vulnerable seniors.”
Trump’s announcement came hours after he confirmed that Hope Hicks, one of his most trusted and longest-serving aides, had been diagnosed with the virus Thursday. Hicks began feeling mild symptoms during the plane ride home from a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday evening, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private information. She was isolated from other passengers aboard the plane, the person said.
Hicks had been with Trump and other senior staff aboard Marine One and Air Force One en route to that rally and had accompanied the president to Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland, along with members of the Trump family. They did not wear masks during the debate, in violation of the venue rules.
Multiple White House staffers have previously tested positive for the virus, including Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and one of the president’s personal valets.
But Trump has consistently played down concerns about being personally vulnerable, even after White House staff and allies were exposed and sickened. Since the coronavirus emerged earlier this year, Trump has refused to abide by basic public health guidelines — including those issued by his own administration — such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Instead, he has continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters.
“I felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” he said told reporters back in May.
The news was sure to rattle an already shaken nation still grappling with how to safely reopen the economy without driving virus transmission. The White House has access to near-unlimited resources, including a constant supply of quick-result tests, and still failed to keep the president safe, raising questions about how the rest of the country will be able to protect its workers, students and the public as businesses and schools reopen.
Questions remain about why it took so long for Trump to be tested and why he and his aides continued to come to work and travel after Hicks fell ill. Trump traveled to New Jersey on Thursday for a fundraiser, exposing attendees to the virus.
Pence’s aides had no immediate comment on whether the vice president had been tested or in contact with Trump.
It is unclear where the Trumps and Hicks may have caught the virus, but in his Fox interview, Trump seemed to suggest it may have been spread by someone in the military or law enforcement.
“It’s very, very hard when you are with people from the military or from law enforcement, and they come over to you, and they want to hug you, and they want to kiss you,” he said, “because we really have done a good job for them. And you get close. And things happen.”
The White House began instituting a daily testing regimen for the president’s senior aides after earlier positive cases close to the president. Anyone in close proximity to the president or vice president is also tested every day, including reporters.
Yet since the early days of the pandemic, experts have questioned the health and safety protocols at the White House and asked why more wasn’t being done to protect the commander in chief. Trump continued to shake hands with visitors long after public health officials were warning against it, and he initially resisted being tested.
Trump is far from the first world leader to test positive for the virus, which previously infected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent a week in the hospital, including three nights in intensive care. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was hospitalized last month while fighting what he called a “hellish” case of COVID-19.
While there is currently no evidence that Trump is seriously ill, the positive test raises questions about what would happen if he were to become incapacitated due to illness.
The Constitution’s 25th Amendment spells out the procedures under which the president can declare himself “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the presidency. If he were to make that call, Trump would transmit a written note to the Senate president pro tempore, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Pence would serve as acting president until Trump transmitted “a written declaration to the contrary.”
The vice president and a majority of either the Cabinet or another body established by law can also declare the president unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, in which case Pence would “immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President” until Trump could provide a written declaration to the contrary.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.
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