White House Grapples with COVID-19: Who Has and Has Not Recently Tested Positive
The news that senior White House aide Hope Hicks had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) set off a flurry of contact tracing and other tests last week — ultimately leading many to suspect a Sept. 26 event for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee as the common link in a wave of new infections.
Overnight on Oct. 2, the White House announced that Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, had tested positive for the virus and would begin quarantining. The president was latest hospitalized Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, returning to his home on Monday as his doctors said he improved but may not be "out of the woods."
The White House maintains it became aware that Hicks was sick on Oct. 1, shortly before the president decided to go ahed and attend a fundraiser in New Jersey and later tested positive for the virus
"We had already started the contact tracing just prior to that event," Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Oct. 2. "Last night even in the early hours of this morning, the minute we got a confirmatory test on the president we felt like it was important to get the news out there."
As of that afternoon, at least half a dozen members of the administration (plus several non-officials who recently visited the White House and several journalists) had tested positive for the virus.
Others, however, have tested negative — though if someone is tested too early in the course of infection, it can result in a false negative.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace noted this caveat when saying he would be tested in the coming days, after being on stage with Trump at Tuesday's presidential debate. His doctor told him a more accurate test would require waiting, Wallace said. He later tested negative, his network said.
Much remains unclear about the unfolding coronavirus situation at the White House, which aides tried to cast as inevitable, given how contagious the virus is — while critics said it only underlined how negligently the administration had handled the virus the whole time.
The White House physician said on Oct. 2 that the president was suffering from fatigue but was in "good spirits" while the first lady had a cough and headache.
The president was subsequently hospitalized and experienced fever and two drops in his oxygen levels, his doctors said. He was treated with supplemental oxygen, an antiviral, steroids and experimental antibodies and returned to the White House on Monday night.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany — who herself tested positive days after the president and first lady — previously said the administration wouldn't be releasing the number of White House staff infected out of privacy concerns, though many of those infected have made public announcements themselves.
Below is a roundup of what is known so far concerning those who have recently tested positive and those who have tested negative in the White House and in President Trump's orbit.
President Donald Trump: "Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!" Trump wrote on Twitter shortly after midnight on the evening of Oct. 2. In recent days, the president made appearances and had crowded campaign events in both Florida and Virginia. On Sept. 26, he spoke at the White House Rose Garden to announce his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
First Lady Melania Trump: Like her husband, Mrs. Trump's diagnosis was announced Oct. 2. In a series of subsequent tweets, she urged her followers to "stay safe" and said she was experiencing mild symptoms.
Hope Hicks: The former White House communications director and current adviser to the president — one of his longest-serving political aides, who left and then returned to his administration — was reported to have tested positive on the afternoon of Oct. 1 , though CNN reported that some White House officials were aware as of that morning. Hicks was with Trump as recently as two days prior, heading to a campaign rally in Minnesota. She was also on Air Force One with Trump when he traveled to the presidential debate against Joe Biden earlier that week.
Sen. Mike Lee: The Republican lawmaker from Utah attended the Supreme Court announcement at the Rose Garden Sept. 26. Video from that event shows Lee speaking in close proximity to, and hugging, several other individuals. As Politico reported, Lee also recently attended committee meetings and party lunches.
Republican Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel: The GOP chair received a positive diagnosis on Sept. 30, according to a report in The New York Times. A spokesperson said she was last with President Trump on Sept. 25.
Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins: In a letter to students, the Notre Dame head announced that he had contracted the virus after learning that a colleague had also tested positive. Writing that he had "mild" symptoms, he said he would be "entering an extended period of isolation as indicated by University medical personnel and county health officials." Like Lee, Jenkins attended Barrett nomination announcement. (Barrett previously contracted and recovered from the virus, The Washington Post reported.) In May, Jenkins wrote an op-ed for the Times titled, "We’re Reopening Notre Dame. It’s Worth the Risk."
White House Reporters: CNN reported that at least three journalists who work at and cover the White House all tested positive on Oct. 2. (An unnamed White House aide who spends time in the press area also tested positive.)
Sen. Thom Tillis: The Republican senator from North Carolina, announced his diagnosis on Oct. 2, just hours after Sen. Lee revealed his positive diagnosis. Both Tillis and Lee were in attendance at the White House ceremony for Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
Campaign Manager Bill Stepien: Trump’s campaign manager tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2 and was experiencing “mild flu-like symptoms,” a campaign official told Politico. Stepien was with the president last week, traveling alongside him for the debate, CNN reported.
Sen. Ron Johnson: The Republican lawmaker from Wisconsin announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 3, making him the third GOP senator to share his positive diagnosis within a day of the president's diagnosis. Unlike his colleagues, Johnson was not present for the SCOTUS ceremony.
Kellyanne Conway: The former counselor to the president shared her diagnosis on Oct. 2 with a brief statement on Twitter. "Tonight I tested positive for COVID-19," she wrote, noting that her “symptoms are mild (light cough).” Conway was also in attendance at the Supreme Court Rose Garden event and at the president's debate prep.
Chris Christie: The former New Jersey governor, who helped Trump prepare for the first presidential debate and was also present for the Sept. 26 ceremony, announced his diagnosis on Oct. 3. “I will be receiving medical attention today and will keep the necessary folks apprised of my condition," he wrote.
Kayleigh McEnany: "After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms,” McEnany wrote on Twitter Oct. 5. Two other communication staffers — Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt — also reportedly tested positive for the virus.
Stephen Miller: The Senior White House aide announced his positive diagnosis on Oct. 7, saying in a statement that he was in quarantine."Over the last five days I have been working remotely and self-isolating, testing negative every day through yesterday," the statement read. "Today, I tested positive for COVID-19 and am in quarantine."
Greg Laurie: The Southern California megachurch pastor and evangelist, also present at the Rose Garden event, announced his diagnosis Oct. 5.
Trish Scalia: The wife of Labor Department Secretary Eugene Scalia tested positive, according to a news release sent on October 13. The announcement added that Eugene Scalia has so far tested negative. As CNN reported, the couple attended the Rose Garden event and were seated directly behind the first lady and next to Conway, both of whom also later test positive.
Barron Trump: On Oct. 14, in an essay titled "My personal experience with COVID-19," the first lady confirmed that her son, Barron, had tested positive for coronavirus after initially testing negative. "Luckily he is a strong teenager and exhibited no symptoms ... He has since tested negative," Melania wrote.
Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden: In a statement released hours after Trump;s diagnosis, the Bidens' physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said the couple "underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected. I am reporting this out in my capacity as both Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden’s primary care physician." The former vice president and Trump debated one another in Cleveland, in the first of what had been three scheduled face-offs ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Neither wore masks, though the candidates stood more than six feet apart and did not shake hands.
Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence: Pence's spokesman, Devin O'Malley, said that the vice president and Second Lady Karen Pence had both tested negative after the president was infected. O'Malley said Pence was tested daily. In a memorandum, his physician, Jesse T. Schonauu said the vice president would not need to be in isolation, as he had not come into close contact with any infected individuals: "Vice President Mike Pence does not need to quarantine. Vice President Mike Pence remains in good health and is free to go about his normal activities."
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were tested again for COVID-19 and both are negative," Carolina Hurley, Ivanka's spokeswoman, said in a brief statement to PEOPLE. Hurley said Ivanka and her husband, also a senior White House aide, were tested Friday. Later Friday, the White House said the rest of the first family, including the president's sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, had also tested negative.
Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris: In a Friday afternoon tweet, the California senator said she and her husband, attorney Doug Emhoff, had both tested negative. "Both @DouglasEmhoff and I were tested for COVID-19 this morning and thankfully we tested negative. This virus is still very much active across our country, please continue to wear a mask and maintain social distancing."
Eric and Donald Trump Jr.: Fox News' Bill Hemmer reported that Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, who previously contracted the virus over the summer, had been tested Friday and their results came back negative. Trump Jr.'s younger brother Eric and his wife Lara have also tested negative, a spokesperson for the couple told PEOPLE. "Eric and Lara are praying for their father and father-in-law, respectively," the spokesperson said. "At this time, they both have negative COVID tests and will be taking all necessary precautions, under the advisement of medical professionals."