October 6, 2020
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tested positive for COVID-19, she said on Monday morning; making her the latest person in President Donald Trump‘s orbit to contract the virus. McEnany has given at least two White House press briefings—without wearing a mask—during the past week, even after she knew that the White House had become a hot spot for the pandemic.
“After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms. No reporters, producers or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit,” McAnany said in a statement that was distributed to the press pool.
Late Thursday, the White House announced that Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive, just hours after top Trump had been informed that close aide Hope Hicks had tested positive. Hicks had been part of the team that traveled with Trump to the presidential debate in Cleveland last week, The Hill reports. .
By Friday evening, Trump already had been hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Throughout the weekend, White House officials gave conflicting information about the president’s condition, appearing to try to downplay the severity of the virus.
A growing number of officials, from GOP lawmakers to White House aides and members of Trump’s reelection campaign, have since tested positive for the virus—and the ceremony in the Rose Garden on September 26 for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has since been identified as a “super-spreader event.” The attendees were gathered with no masks and did not attempt to socially distance.
Members of Trump’s family were also seen flouting mask-wearing guidelines during the debate, The Hill reports—even after they were asked to put on their PPE.
Trump, who has perpetually downplayed the severity of the coronavirus — even as more than 200,000 Americans have died from it — has repeatedly ridiculed Democratic opponent Joe Biden for wearing face masks during campaign events. During the debate last week, Biden pointed out that Trump rarely wears masks in public. Trump mocked Biden for doing so, despite widespread scientific consensus that wearing masks greatly reduces the spread of the coronavirus.
Others in the president’s circle who have tested positive include his campaign manager, Bill Stepien; three Republican U.S. senators; and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who assisted Trump with preparation before last week’s presidential debate.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who has tested negative thus far, including on Monday, acknowledged Friday that there were likely to be more coronavirus cases among White House officials following Trump’s diagnosis.
McEnany did not travel with Trump to a fundraiser in New Jersey on Thursday after learning of Hicks’s test result, but she denied in her statement that she knew Hicks had tested positive when she spoke to reporters from the briefing room podium on Thursday morning. McEnany did not quarantine despite being a close contact of Hicks’ and Trump’s after both tested positive for the highly contagious virus that has killed roughly 210,000 people in the United States.
The press secretary was seldom spotted wearing a mask for the last several months, even as public health experts said it was one of the most effective ways to limit transmission of COVID-19. After Trump revealed he had tested positive, McEnany was spotted with a mask on waiting for him to depart for the hospital on Marine One.
But on Sunday, McEnany briefly fielded questions on the White House driveway without wearing a face covering.
Research contact: @thehill