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Trump, COVID-19, and the snowball effect—who is now at risk?

Trump, COVID-19, and the snowball effect—who is now at risk?

Washington D.C. – At 9:44 p.m. on October 1, President Trump announced on Twitter that one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the coronavirus. Just hours later, the president and his wife learned of their own positive test results. In the past week, many of Trump’s staff as well as the public, have also contracted the coronavirus — and many at the White House are afraid of what’s to come.

President Trump was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment, while his wife, Melania, stayed behind at the White House. During his stay, the president rode around the premises in a motorcade to stir up the crowd waiting there — a move that directly contradicts precautions that contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr. James P. Phillips, attending physician at Walter Reed, said of Trump’s motorcade, “This is insanity…[those in the vehicle with Trump] may die for political theater.” Trump was released from Walter Reed in the evening on Monday, and he is now recovering at the White House. 

On Tuesday, General Mark Milley, in addition to several members of the Pentagon’s executive leadership, began quarantining. This news comes after Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Charles Ray tested positive for coronavirus on Monday this week. 

All but one member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is in quarantine — Commandant of the Marine Corps General David H. Berger, who did not attend recent meetings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Jonathan Hoffman, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said in a statement Tuesday, “All potential close contacts from these meetings are self-quarantining and have been tested this morning. No Pentagon contacts have exhibited symptoms and we have no additional positive tests to report at this time.” He added that the Pentagon is practicing contact tracing.

The president attended an October 1 fundraiser for his campaign in Bedminster, New Jersey, before he received a positive test result later that evening. Jason Miller, the Trump campaign’s senior adviser, told NBC’s Meet the Press that Trump was justified in attending this event because Trump had not received a positive test result himself. The president knew, however, that Hicks tested positive before attending the fundraiser.

George Hemy, chief of staff to New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy, requested the event’s list of attendees along with their contact information, in order to begin contract tracing. According to the Wall Street Journal, New Jersey only received 206 total names and email addresses — no information on physical addresses or telephone numbers, despite the fact that donors came from multiple states. At press time, 184 attendees have been contacted.

Several people have contracted the coronavirus from attending an event in the White House’s Rose Garden last Saturday. At this event, the president formally announced his nomination for the Supreme Court — Amy Coney Barrett. Very few attendees wore masks, which, according to ABC News, led some experts to describe this as a “superspreader” event.

The president intends to debate Democratic candidate Joe Biden on October 15, according to Trump’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh. The president’s attendance, however, will depend on the trajectory of his health in the next week or so. Trump’s physician, Sean Conley, said Trump is being monitored more than the CDC recommends, in case the virus clears in the next week. Biden has said he will debate Trump if medical professionals deem it safe.

Many White House aides, panicked about the White House outbreak, are now working from home to avoid contracting the coronavirus. White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern said this is “the way this process is supposed to work,” but it remains unclear how many more aides will test positive. 

Trump tweeted a minute-long video after his release from Walter Reed Monday, in which he attempted to display strength in his battle against the coronavirus. The president clearly struggled to breathe in the video, and appeared to be in pain as he stood.

According to the New York Times, 20 people (including the president) who either work in the White House or are part of Trump’s inner circle are ill:

  • President Donald Trump
  • First Lady Melania Trump
  • Hope Hicks (Senior Adviser to the President)
  • Stephen Miller (Senior Adviser to the President)
  • Nicholas Luna (Assistant to the President)
  • Kayleigh McEnany (White House Press Secretary)
  • Karoline Leavitt (Assistant Press Secretary)
  • Chad Gilmartin (Assistant Press Secretary)
  • Harrison W. Fields (Assistant Press Secretary)
  • Jalen Drummond (Assistant Press Secretary)
  • Charles W. Ray (U.S. Coast Guard admiral)
  • Mike Lee (U.S. Senator, R-UT) *
  • Thom Tillis (U.S. Senator, R-NC) *
  • Ronna McDaniel (Republican National Convention Chairwoman)
  • Bill Stepien (President Trump’s campaign manager)
  • Kellyanne Conway (President Trump’s former campaign manager)*
  • Chris Christie (former governor of New Jersey)
  • John I. Jenkins (Notre Dame president) *
  • Greg Laurie (pastor) *
  • Michael D. Shear (New York Times White House reporter)
  • Al Drago (photojournalist)
  • Unnamed White House journalist
  • Unnamed military aide

*directly connected to White House Rose Garden event

Who will test positive next?

Image Credit: Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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Lead developer and editor; legal/political reporter for the Current Affairs Times. World traveler. Mac 'n' cheese lover.

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