White House COVID-19 outbreak

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White House outbreak of COVID-19
President Trump Nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (50397942602).jpg
Event in the Rose Garden of the White House where possible infections happened
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationWhite House, Washington, D.C., USA
Arrival dateSeptember 26, 2020; 8 months ago (2020-09-26)
Confirmed casesAt least 36[1]
Hospitalized cases3

In September and October 2020, multiple people at the White House tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Background[change | change source]

On September 16, it was reported that at least one unnamed staffer had tested positive.[2]

On October 1, President Donald Trump, his wife Melania Trump, press advisor Hope Hicks, presidential campaign manager Bill Stepien, and former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway tested positive for the coronavirus.[3][4][5][6] Claudia Conway, the daughter of Kellyanne Conway, announced on Oct 4 that she had tested positive as well.[7] On October 5, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she had also tested positive.[8]

Trump tested positive days after the first presidential debate against Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio. Around eleven people tested positive who worked at the debates in Cleveland.[9] Some of Trump's personal aides who prepared him for the debates also tested positive.[10]

Many of the cases were rooted to be at the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the United States Supreme Court on September 26 and at a Trump campaign fundraiser event in Bedminster, New Jersey on October 1.[11]

That same day, it was revealed that Senators Thom Tillis and Mike Lee both tested positive, as well as University of Notre Dame president John I. Jenkins.[12] Three members of the White House press corps, including Michael D. Shear, also tested positive.[13]

On October 2, Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.[14][15]

Also on October 2, many individuals connected to the White House were diagnosed with COVID-19.[16][17]

Trump response[change | change source]

Trump greets supporters from inside an SUV on October 4.

On October 4, Trump left the hospital in order to ride past a gathering of supporters at the medical center, waving from the back seat of an SUV, before returning to the hospital.[18] This was seen as a political stunt and many criticized Trump for possible putting other people at risk for getting infected.[19][20] Many Secret Service agents were upset at Trump as he could have infected them with one agent saying: "He's not even pretending to care now".[21][22]

Reaction[change | change source]

Trump while hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with COVID-19 in October 3
Sean Conley's press update on President Trump, October 4 – video courtesy of the White House

The incident has been compared to the non-fatal shooting of Ronald Reagan in 1981, which saw similar concerns over continuity of government amid incapacitation of the president.[23]

Stock markets briefly fell more than 1.5 percent after Trump announced his diagnosis, but they cut their losses after Pelosi said she anticipated an economic relief deal. The S&P 500 Index ended the day down almost 1 percent.[24]

Twitter announced that any posts wishing for Trump's death would be removed for violating the platform's terms of service. Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley criticized Twitter for not taking threats against them seriously, pointing to longstanding posts calling for their deaths that had not been removed.[25] Facebook and TikTok announced similar policies.[26]

Tested negative[change | change source]

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen,[27] Presidential candidate Joe Biden, Biden's running mate Kamala Harris, Biden's wife Jill Biden, Attorney General William Barr, and Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett all tested negative in the day following public revelation of the outbreak.[28][29][30]

Many of Trump's family members, including Ivanka Trump, Barron Trump, Jared Kushner,[31] Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. also received a negative result.[32]

Cases[change | change source]

Timeline of event attendance by people who have tested positive for COVID-19
Patient Position Was event attended by the patient? Current status Date the diagnosis was first reported publicly
Barrett nomination
Sep 26
Gold Star Day
Sep 27
Ohio debate
Sep 29
Duluth rally
Sep 30
Bedminster fundraiser
Oct 1
Multiple unidentified staffers White House staffers Unknown Positive Sep 16[2]
Crede Bailey Head of White House Security Office Diagnosed before Barrett nomination event, hospitalized in September Hospitalized Oct 6[33]
Hope Hicks Senior Counselor to the President Yes Yes Isolating[11][34] Positive and symptomatic Oct 1[35]
Donald Trump (R) 45th President of the United States Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes[36] Hospitalized; Discharged Oct 2[37]
Mike Lee (R) United States Senator from Utah Yes Positive and symptomatic Oct 2[38]
Thom Tillis (R) United States Senator from North Carolina Yes Positive and symptomatic[39] Oct 2[40]
Melania Trump First Lady of the United States Yes Yes Positive and symptomatic Oct 2[41]
Kellyanne Conway Former Counselor to the President Yes Positive and symptomatic Oct 2[42]
Ronna McDaniel Chair of the Republican National Committee Attended D.C. fundraiser with Trump on Sep 25[1] Positive and symptomatic Oct 2[43]
Michael D. Shear & wife[44] White House correspondent for The New York Times Michael Shear was at the White House on Sep 26 only for a required COVID-19 test in advance of traveling with Trump and Kayleigh McEnany to the Pennsylvania rally later that day[45] Positive and symptomatic Oct 2[46]
Bill Stepien Trump campaign manager Traveled to Cleveland debate aboard Air Force One with President, First Lady, Hope Hicks, and Steven Miller Positive and symptomatic Oct 2[47]
Al Drago White House press room photojournalist Yes Positive and symptomatic Oct 2[48]
One unidentified journalist White House press room journalist Yes Unknown Positive Oct 2[49]
11 unidentified persons Debate preparation staff or media Yes Positive Oct 2[9]
Nick Luna Body man to Donald Trump Yes Cancelled[11][10] Positive Oct 3[10]
Chris Christie (R) Former Governor of New Jersey Yes Exposed to Trump at Amy Coney Barrett meeting on Sep 26, at debate prep meetings and a press conference on Sep 27 Hospitalized Oct 3[50]
John I. Jenkins President of the University of Notre Dame Yes Positive and symptomatic Oct 3[51]
Ron Johnson (R) United States Senator from Wisconsin Exposed to unnamed individual on Sep 14[52] Positive but asymptomatic Oct 3[53]
Claudia Conway Daughter of Kellyanne Conway Exposed to mother Positive and symptomatic[54] Oct 4[7]
Kayleigh McEnany White House press secretary Yes Yes Cancelled[11] Positive Oct 5[55]
Greg Laurie Senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship Yes Positive and symptomatic Oct 5[56]
Chad Gilmartin Principal assistant press secretary Yes Positive Oct 5[57]
Karoline Leavitt Assistant press secretary Yes Positive Oct 5[57]
Two unidentified staffers White House residence staff Regularly exposed to First Family Positive Oct 5[58]
Jayna McCarron U.S. Coast Guard aide to the president Yes Positive Oct 6[59]
One unidentified military personnel President's valet[60] Regularly exposed to Trump Positive Oct 6[61]
Adm. Charles Ray Vice commandant of the Coast Guard Yes Positive and symptomatic Oct 6[1]
Jalen Drummond Assistant White House Press Secretary Yes Positive Oct 6[62]
Stephen Miller Senior Advisor to the President Yes Positive Oct 6[63]
Salud Carbajal (D) United States Representative from CA-24 Reportedly exposed to Sen. Mike Lee Positive and symptomatic Oct 6[64]
Gen. Gary Thomas Marine Corps’ assistant commandant Exposed to Gen. Milley Positive and symptomatic Oct 7[65]
Mike Bost US Representative from IL-12 Exposed to Mike Lee Positive and symptomatic Oct 9[66]

References[change | change source]

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