Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement on Monday that she tested positive for the coronavirus that morning but didn't have any symptoms

By Adam Carlson
October 05, 2020 12:21 PM
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The list of White House staffers sickened by the novel coronavirus has grown one name longer with the announcement Monday that Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany had been infected.

McEnany, 32, said in a statement on Monday that she tested positive for the coronavirus that morning but didn't have any symptoms.

She said she would be quarantining while still working as an administration spokeswoman.

In a defensive tone reflecting the confusion created by the White House's handling of the outbreak in the administration — which has so far infected President Donald Trump, his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, senior aide Hope Hicks, former senior aide Kellyanne Conway and others — McEnany insisted that she had not been in "close contact" with any journalists while sick.

She also maintained that she "definitively had no knowledge" about Hicks' diagnosis when she spoke with the press last Thursday. She said she had previously tested negative for the virus on Thursday, Friday and over the weekend.

Some reporters noted on Monday that, despite McEnany saying she hadn't exposed anyone in the media, she was seen taking off her face mask to speak with reporters this weekend. ABC News reported that McEnany did not travel with the president to a fundraiser in New Jersey on Thursday because of her contact with Hicks, but she did not quarantine.

A former Trump campaign spokeswoman who was named press secretary in April, McEnany is the latest among the president's aides and other Republicans in Trump's orbit to confirm they have the coronavirus.

In a statement on Monday, the White House Correspondents Association said: “We wish Kayleigh, the president and everyone else struggling with the virus a swift recovery. As of this moment we are not aware of additional cases among White House journalists, though we know some are awaiting test results. We strongly encourage our members to continue following CDC guidance on mask-wearing and distancing — especially when at the White House — and urge journalists to seek testing if they were potentially exposed.”

President Donald Trump
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty

The cause of the outbreak remains unclear — and Trump, 74, has attended multiple large gatherings in recent weeks. But many of those who are sick were at a Sept. 26 White House event in support of Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, where attendees were in close proximity and many did not wear masks.

The most troubling case from that cluster of infections is the president himself.

Trump, who has regularly faced criticism for his downplaying of the virus, including mocking mask-wearing, announced early Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump were both positive for the respiratory illness.

On Friday night, he was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a days-long hospitalization.

Officials said over the weekend that his oxygen levels had dropped twice and he had a fever on Friday, but his doctors have said they are trying to project optimism and he is now doing better.

Information about the president's health has regularly conflicted since he first announced he was sick, including when an administration official — later identified as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — anonymously told the press that Trump's prognosis was more concerning than his doctors had said publicly.