President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2, only hours after one of his closest senior aides, Hope Hicks, also tested positive for the virus. The situation appeared to escalate as White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany had also been exposed to Ms. Hicks on Air Force One. The press secretary held a briefing with reporters that day without mentioning the exposure nor wearing a mask nor face covering. On the days in between, the president interacted with a large number of staff members, donors and supporters.
For months, the president has made a series of controversial statements about the effectiveness of masks, refusing to wear one in public in all but a few occasions. Even as recently in the opening presidential debate he repeatedly mocked opponent Joe Biden for wearing one, stating, “I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask.”
Many on the president’s staff work in tight quarters for campaign preparation within the West Wing, relying on negative test results as an excuse to abstain from wearing masks and following other safety precautions that have been imposed on the rest of the American population.
It has yet to be clear whether or not Trump had already been infected by the virus prior to the presidential debate held in Cleveland on Sept. 29. The two candidates never appeared to get within six feet of one another and stood a great distance from each other across the stage.
Others on President Trump’s staff did not fare as well as former Vice President Biden, as over 24 staff members have tested positive in the past few weeks. The crowded Rose Garden ceremony to commemorate Amy Coney Barret’s nomination to the Supreme Court is pointed to as the source of the West Wing outbreak. Footage from the event showed few attendees wearing masks and an overall lack of social distancing. Eight of these attendees, including President Trump and the First Lady, were confirmed to have the virus:
- New Jersey Ex-Governor Chris Christie
- Trump Ex-Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway
- Senator Mike Lee from Utah
- Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina
- Reverend John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame
- An unnamed journalist
Trump has repeatedly expressed confidence in his health to the public over the past week, continuing his strategy of downplaying the virus to Americans.
Only nine days after receiving his positive result, Trump proceeded to host an outdoor rally on the White House lawn. At this rally the president removed his mask to give his speech, confidently saying that the coronavirus was “disappearing.” Shortly before the event, the CDC released a report that there have been over 58,000 new cases within the U.S. in the past 24 hours. It is still unclear whether or not the president remains contagious after his three-day hospital stay from the virus.
The president’s test results came back positive after he and his campaign spent months playing down the virus to the American public, asserting that the situation was under control and that the country was finally “rounding the corner” in terms of the end of the crisis. The United States holds the title for the highest death toll across the globe, as over 214,000 Americans lost their lives to the virus while continuously being told the “end of the pandemic is in sight.”
The positive test result also faltered the President’s efforts to curve the subject of the pandemic away from the upcoming election, as he has been attempting to focus voter attention on violence in cities, the upcoming Supreme Court nomination and the mail-in ballot system.
President Trump is the latest of world leaders to be infected by the on-going coronavirus pandemic, following the infection of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as leaders from Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala and Bolivia.
*This article was written with the most current information available at this time*