White House Valet Reportedly Tested Positive for Coronavirus but President Is 'In Good Health'

"The President and the Vice President have since tested negative for the virus and they remain in great health," a spokesman said

The White House
The White House. Photo: Getty Images

A personal White House valet for Donald Trump has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to multiple news reports, though the White House said the president has tested negative and remains "in good health."

A spokesman said that a government employee at the White House had contracted the respiratory illness but declined to confirm they were a valet or to comment on the reporting about the person's physical proximity to Trump.

“We were recently notified by the White House Medical Unit that a member of the United States Military, who works on the White House campus, has tested positive for Coronavirus," White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. "The President and the Vice President have since tested negative for the virus and they remain in great health.”

CNN reported the person is a male valet in the Navy and one of multiple valets who serves the president.

"The valets are members of an elite military unit dedicated to the White House and often work very close to the President and first family. ... They are responsible for the President's food and beverage not only in the West Wing but also travel with him when he's on the road," the network reported.

The man showed symptoms of the virus on Wednesday morning and Trump "was upset" when test results showed someone working close to him had come down with the virus, according to CNN.

Valets for the president do not wear masks, according to a White House official who spoke with NBC News' Peter Alexander.

Alexander tweeted Thursday that the valet who tested positive for COVID-19 "works in the West Wing and serves the president his meals, among other duties."

COVID-19 is the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, which has killed at least 73,900 in the U.S. and more than 264,000 worldwide, according to a New York Times tracker.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump participates in a tour of a Honeywell International plant that manufactures personal protective equipment in Phoenix, Arizona on May 5. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
Vice President Mike Pence, left, visits the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn
Vice President Mike Pence (blue tie) visits the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota last Tuesday, April 28 and opts not to wear a protective face mask. Jim Mone/AP/Shutterstock

Trump, 73, and Vice President Mike Pence, 60, were being tested weekly for the coronavirus, according to CNN.

Trump told reporters on Thursday that the testing schedule would be increased to daily.

He said, "I’ve had very little contact with this person [who tested positive]."

In March, concern that the president and members of his administration would contract the virus grew in some circles after a number of government officials around the world began testing positive, including some Brazilian aides who dined and took pictures with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.

The president and and vice president said they wouldn't be tested then because they weren't exhibiting symptoms.

Before his tone turned more serious regarding the virus, Trump downplayed it compared to the flu and said Democrats were trying to politicize it as a "hoax" to damage him politically.

In March, as the virus' reach in the U.S. and around the world became more clear, Trump also appeared hesitant to embrace the social distancing norms that have now become commonplace, such as not shaking hands.

Later, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended people should be wearing cloth face masks in public, the president immediately said he wouldn't and has so far avoided doing so in public, in contrast to Pence.

Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump self-quarantined and worked from home for about a week in mid-March after she interacted with an Australian official at the White House who later tested positive for the virus.

The CDC recommends "wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain."

CNN reports Thursday that the White House wasn't enforcing strict social distancing for its staff members and that few people, including the president's valets, wear masks while inside the building.

Trump told reporters earlier in the week before boarding Air Force One that he wasn't worried about being in close proximity with others on the plane.

"The test result comes back in five minutes and we have great testing, or they wouldn't be allowed to travel with me," Trump said. "It's not my choice. It's a very strong group of people that want to make sure they are tested, including Secret Service."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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