Just as early indicators pointed to a White House gathering to fete Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett Saturday as a coronavirus spreader event, the growing raft of prominent people with positive hits for the virus as of Tuesday raises the prospect of a common potential link: President Donald Trump.
There is no known scientific contact tracing effort that identifies to the president as the potential spreader, as opposed to being the recipient, of the deadly virus – in part because the extent of any contact tracing being done is not known.
But with infection upon infection being revealed piecemeal, there is now a growing body of people who got infected and either huddled with Trump due to their power and access to him, or tended to his needs as among the lower level functionaries who travel with the president and make the White House run.
President Donald Trump salutes as he arrives at the White House upon his return from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for Covid-19. He has links to a growing list of people who tested positive for the virus
The latest bombshell revelation about people with a nexus to the White House getting infected came with the news Tuesday that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley and other military leaders were going under quarantine.
All had contacts with vice commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Charles W. Ray, who tested positive for COVID-19. Wray, and Milley, had been at the White House Sunday, Sep. 27, for an event honoring ‘gold star’ families. It featured a reception in the East Room where guests were unmasked.
The quarantines have sidelined nine top military leaders, including fellow members of the joint chiefs and the head of U.S. cyber command. Fortunately only Ray had tested positive as of Tuesday afternoon.
It wasn’t only military brass who was affected. Steven Xiarhos, a GOP candiate for the Massachusetts legislature, is quarantining at home after interacting with Trump and others. He says his test results were negative.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is one of three Republican senators who attended an event for the nominatin of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to test positive for the virus
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks to members of the media at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 4, 2020
Karoline Leavitt in photos from her Twitter and Facebook pages. Leavitt works for Kayleigh McEnany and has now tested positive for coronavirus
Lt. Cdr. Jayna McCarron, the White House Military Office aide who often carries the nuclear “football” which follows the president at all times and provides access to the US nuclear arsenal, has contracted COVID-19. She last traveled with Trump to Bedminster NJ
The Sunday event was sandwiched between two other high-risk activities events the president attended.
On Saturday, Trump hosted more than 100 guests at the White House to celebrate the Barrett nomination. It has since been revealed that in addition to the outdoor event, there were indoor receptions.
Three Republican senators who were there have tested positive for the coronavirus, throwing a planned committee vote into doubt if Republicans cannot reach a quorum on the Judiciary Committee. Two of them, Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, serve on the committee, and Tillis faces a tough reelection race.
Also on Saturday, Trump flew on Air Force One to attend a rally in Harrisburg. A reporter on the flight who was among those interacting with Trump tested positive this week, as did his wife.
Sunday’s gold star event was followed by debate prep for the president. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway both took part. Both have tested positive for COVID-19.
It isn’t just big shots who came in contact with Trump and also came down with the virus.
One of a handful of military aides who tend to trump – and carry the famed ‘nuclear football’ wherever the president goes – tested positive over the weekend, CNN reporter.
Coast Guard aide Jayna McCarron, who is sometimes pictured with Trump carrying the football with the nuclear codes, is the aide reported to be positive. She last traveled with Trump on a trip to his New Jersey golf club, where the president attended fundraisers for his campaign.
The football goes wherever the president does – and an aide carried it during Trump’s hospital stay at Walter Reed, which lasted three nights and where doctors put Trump on a steroid and administered experimental treatments.
Nor have Trump’s close advisors on messaging been immune. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tested positive Monday, and was in quarantine Tuesday, doing a Fox news hit from her Virginia home – although she had been at the White House after the outbreak that began last week.
McEnany and Trump both had been exposed to longtime Trump advisor Hope Hicks, whose positive diagnosis was the first to upend Washington after it was revealed not by the White House but by a Bloomberg News reporter.
Two of McEnany’s subordinates have now tested positive.
Secret Service agents who support the president have already been in the line of fire of the virus. Several were moved off their assignments in connection to the president’s rally in Tulsa, which has also been identified as a possible spreader event. Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, who attended the event unmasked, died of the coronavirus.
Now, the Secret Service says it will not provide updates on how many agents have become infected with the virus. One agent was pictured in PPE seated ahead of Trump when the president took a ride in an SUV to greet supporters outside Walter Reed.
A valet who travels with Trump and assists him in the Oval Office also tested positive, administration officials said Tuesday. He was the second Trump valet to get hit by the virus: another tested positive earlier this year. Nick Luna, Trump’s ‘body man,’ tested positive Saturday.
The growing web of infected contacts does not appear to have changed Trump’s pronouncements about the virus, although it does have him working out of the East Wing residence for now.
”FEELING GREAT!’ Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
Trump wanted to go to the Oval Office Tuesday, Bloomberg reported, prompting discussion among aides. For the moment, he is making due in the Diplomatic Reception Room.
Tracking down any potential common source for the outbreak would be a challenge under any circumstances. But although the White House says it has a ‘robust’ contact tracing system in place, people who have been exposed to positive people in the White House orbit report never hearing from the White House or contact tracers.
epa08702732 Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie listens as US President Donald J. Trump holds a news briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 27 September 2020. Christie was hospitalized after getting a positive result
In this file photo taken on August 28, 2020 Campaign manager Bill Stepien stands alongside US President Donald Trump. Stepien also tested positive for COVID-19
Trump flew to a presidential debate in Cleveland Tuesday where he was in proximity to Joe Biden and Jill Biden, but the Biden team reported not being contact by the White House after Trump’s positive test results. Biden complained Monday night at a town hall that he could see from the stage Trump family members who did not wear masks at the event.
White House physician Dr. Sean Conley has refused to answer reporters’ questions about when was Trump’s last negative test for COVID-19. His only statement on the president’s condition Tuesday was brief and offered few details.
Even before the Saturday Supreme Court party, Trump traveled with Republican National Committee chair Rona McDaniel, who also has tested positive for the virus.
While the president may be itching to get back to work and lobbing online barbs at his rivals – including Biden, who he insulted as ‘sleepy’ for the first time since before Trump was taken to the hospital – his daughter Ivanka is steering clear of a work space some aides fear is contaminated.
She is working from home in Washington this week. She is an advisor to her father and normally works out of the White House.
First Lady Melania Trump, who also has become infected, issued a statement Tuesday stating there have been ‘hospital-grade disinfection policies’ in the White House residence since March.
The president had already shattered expectations by removing his mask and saluting while on the Truman balcony Monday night upon his return to the White House.
The White House coronavirus outbreak took another alarming turn Tuesday as it was revealed the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and other top military leaders are under quarantine after a senior Coast Guard official tested positive for the coronavirus, two U.S. officials said.
Gen. Mark Milley and the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force have tested negative for the virus, but remain under quarantine as a precaution, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information not yet made public.
The head of U.S. Cyber Command, Gen. Paul Nakasone, was also among those quarantined.
All were under quarantine after Milley and other senior officials attended a White House event Sunday to honor ‘gold star’ families.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley has gone into quarantine after attending a White House event Sunday. So have other top defense officials
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump both were present.
Milley and other top DOD officials have received frequent tests after being at the White House Sunday, the New York Times reported.
Officials said the military leaders were working from home and this has not affected military readiness.
They also have huddled in the ‘Tank,’ a secure facility inside the Pentagon.
Up to 14 officials are believed to have been potentially exposed to the virus after meetings last week with the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Charles W. Ray, who has tested positive. The officials were informed about the positive test on Monday.
It is not known how Ray contracted the virus, but it was not believed to be related to the outbreak affecting President Donald Trump and others at the White House, the officials said.
Milley was among those attending a White House event for ‘gold star’ families
Guests were seated closely together and did not wear masks at the Sept. 27 reception in the East Room of the white House
As at many White House events, guests did not wear masks
TRUMP’S INNER CIRCLE WHO HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 1
Ronna McDaniel, 47. Chair of the Republican National Convention
McDaniel is thought to have been the first positive case. It was not made public until after Trump’s diagnosis.
She was last in contact with Trump on September 25. McDaniel began isolating on September 26 when a member of her family tested positive. She got her results several days later.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 2
Hope Hicks, 31, Counselor to the President
Hicks was the first case reported and was tied to the President’s positive test.
She flew with him through the week before he was diagnosed and started feeling unwell on her way back from a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday night.
She quarantined on Air Force One to stay away from him.
President Donald Trump, 74
Confirmed positive diagnosis on Friday October 2 at 1am. Was taken to Walter Reed on Friday night, where he remained on Monday afternoon.
Reported symptoms included trouble breathing, lethargy and a fever.
He was given an antibody cocktail on Friday and other treatments.
First Lady Melania Trump, 50
Confirmed positive diagnosis on Friday October 2 at 1am. She has been quarantining in the White House.
She suffered mild symptoms including a cough and a headache but has said repeatedly that she feels ‘good’.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 2
Fr. John Jenkins, 66, President of the University of Notre Dame
Jenkins attended the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s Supreme Court Nomination without a mask on Saturday September 25.
The event in the White House Rose Garden is now widely believed to be the source of many of the infections.
He is not thought to have severe symptoms.
Mike Lee, 49, Republican Utah Senator
Lee also attended the event in the Rose Garden and he was seen hugging other attendees without a mask on.
He is not thought to have severe symptoms either.
Bill Stepien, 42, Trump’s Campaign Manager
Stepien tested positive after Trump.
He had mild, flu-like symptoms and planned to continue working from home.
He attended Tuesday night’s rally in Cleveland, having flown with Trump and Hicks on Air Force One to and from the event.
Michael Shear, 52, New York Times White House correspondent, and two other unnamed journalists
The journalists’ positive diagnoses were revealed on Friday.
Two attended the SCOTUS event, where they said they were forced into pen like enclosures at the back, with little space between them.
Hardly any of the guests at the event wore masks, they said.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 3
Thom Tillis, 60, Republican North Carolina Senator
Tillis announced that he’d tested positive after routinely testing negative.
He said he was asymptomatic.
‘Over the last few months, I’ve been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive,’ he said in a statement.
Chris Christie, 58, Former New Jersey Governor
Christie has been at the White House frequently in recent weeks and was at the SCOTUS event.
He tested positive on Saturday and checked himself into hospital, he said, out of an abundance of caution because of his health conditions including asthma.
Nicholas Luna, 29, Chief of Oval Office Operations and ‘body man’
Luna’s job requirements involve following Trump around at all times.
He tested positive on Saturday night, more than 24 hours after President Trump did
Ron Johnson, 65, Republican Wisconsin Senator
Johnson still attended an Oktoberfest event on Friday night while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, despite knowing he had come into contact with others who had tested positive.
He defended it, saying he was asymptomatic
SUNDAY OCTOBER 4
Kellyanne Conway, 53, Former White House Counselor to the President
Conway and her daughter have both tested positive.
The daughter, Claudia, revealed on Tik Tok that her mom had been coughing all over their home
MONDAY OCTOBER 5
Kayleigh McEnany, 32, White House Press Secretary
McEnany had tested negative last week after Trump’s diagnosis and she continued giving press conferences without a mask on until Sunday
Chad Gilmartin. Assistant Press Secretary
Karoline Leavitt, Assistant Press Secretary
Two unnamed staff members who work in the White House residence.
They were told to use ‘discretion’ when discussing it, according to The New York Times