US President Donald Trump aboard Presidential SUV as he greeted fans outside Walter Reed hospital where he is confined for Covid-19 treatment. Dr James Phillips, a Walter Reed attending doctor, condemned the president’s Sunday afternoon drive, which violated Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
McEnany tested positive of the virus 24 hours after briefing the press without a mask on — so who at the White House DOESN’T have it?
By JENNIFER SMITH and EMILY GOODIN SENIOR U.S. POLITICAL REPORTER
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has become the latest person in the President’s inner circle to test positive for COVID-19, three days after Trump confirmed he’d been infected.
McEnany, 32, continued going to work at the White House despite Trump testing positive late on Thursday night and she took her mask off on Sunday to brief reporters.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (Photo courtesy of Reuters and AP)
She had been in close contact with the President and others at White House who have tested positive, but repeatedly tested negatively herself until Monday.
Her assistant, Chad Gilmartin has also tested positive.
‘After testing negatively consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms,’ McEnany said in a statement posted to Twitter.
‘As an essential worker, I have worked diligently to provide needed information to the American people at this time.
‘With my recent positive test, I will begin the quarantine process and continue working on behalf of the American people,’ she noted.
The White House staff are tested every day with rapid testing kits and have been relying on those results to let people back into the building since Trump’s diagnosis last week, even though it is commonly known that it can take several days after someone becomes exposed for their viral load to be substantial enough to yield a positive result.
After McEnany’s diagnosis on Monday, White House staffers were sent an email reminding them to stay home if they feel any symptoms. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen were both tested again on Monday and tested negative.
It comes amid speculation over when Trump, who has been at Walter Reed Medical Center since Friday night, will return to the White House.
Trump demanded to leave the hospital on Sunday and is worried it makes him look ‘weak’, anonymous sources cited by CNN claim.
On Monday morning, the President fired off 19 early morning tweets reminding America to vote for him and brushed off criticism over his SUV outing.
One source cited by CNN said: ‘He is done with the hospital’ and is concerned about the toll his ongoing treatment for COVID-19 might have on his election chances.
Trump thinks being in the hospital makes him look ‘weak’, the source said.
It comes amid claims that the President knew he had tested positive with the virus on Thursday night but kept it secret during an interview on Fox.
Other sources cited by The Washington Post said he is bored of staying at Walter Reed and is tired of watching round-the-clock news coverage of his condition.
He is desperate to get back to work in the White House but aides are concerned if he leaves too early, it may be more detrimental to his health.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Monday insisted to Fox News that Trump was in good health and made ‘good progress’. Meadows said he was ‘optimistic’ that the President would be discharged from the hospital on Monday.
Meadows said that a decision would be made this afternoon on whether or not Trump will be discharged but that more consultations were needed.
He also defended Trump’s outing on Sunday, as have other allies including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Rudy Giuliani.
Meadows said: ‘He is ready to get back to a normal working schedule. He will meet with his doctors and nurses this morning to make further assessments of his progress.’
In a flurry of tweets starting at 6.30am on Monday, Trump boasted about the stock markets, promised to deliver more tax cuts and listed ‘pro-life’, ‘space force’, ‘religious liberty’ and ‘law and order’ as among reasons why he should win again.
Over the weekend, Trump released several video addresses where he promised to be in good health despite his diagnosis, and the White House shared photographs of him working at the hospital.
He claims to have been meeting some of the wounded veterans who are also being treated in the hospital.
On Sunday night, he made a surprise appearance outside the hospital to thank fans who had turned out with signs, flags and banners wishing him a speedy recovery.
Trump said he was touched by the outpouring of support and wanted to show his appreciation.
But doctors – including one from Walter Reed – say it was irresponsible of him to get into the Presidential SUV with Secret Service agents and risk infecting them.
Dr James Phillips, a Walter Reed attending doctor, condemned the president’s Sunday afternoon drive, which violated Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
TRUMP’S INNER CIRCLE WHO HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 1
- Ronna McDaniel, 47. Chair of the Republican National Convention
McDaniel is thought to have been the first positive case. It was not made public until after Trump’s diagnosis.
She was last in contact with Trump on September 25. McDaniel began isolating on September 26 when a member of her family tested positive. She got her results several days later.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 2
Hope Hicks, 31, Counselor to the President
Hicks was the first case reported and was tied to the President’s positive test.
She flew with him through the week before he was diagnosed and started feeling unwell on her way back from a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday night.
She quarantined on Air Force One to stay away from him.
President Donald Trump, 74
Confirmed positive diagnosis on Friday October 2 at 1am. Was taken to Walter Reed on Friday night, where he remained on Monday afternoon.
Reported symptoms included trouble breathing, lethargy and a fever.
He was given an antibody cocktail on Friday and other treatments.
First Lady Melania Trump, 50
Confirmed positive diagnosis on Friday October 2 at 1am. She has been quarantining in the White House.
She suffered mild symptoms including a cough and a headache but has said repeatedly that she feels ‘good’.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 2
Fr. John Jenkins, 66, President of the University of Notre Dame
Jenkins attended the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s Supreme Court Nomination without a mask on Saturday September 25.
The event in the White House Rose Garden is now widely believed to be the source of many of the infections.
He is not thought to have severe symptoms.
Mike Lee, 49, Republican Utah Senator
Lee also attended the event in the Rose Garden and he was seen hugging other attendees without a mask on.
He is not thought to have severe symptoms either.
Bill Stepien, 42, Trump’s Campaign Manager
Stepien tested positive after Trump.
He had mild, flu-like symptoms and planned to continue working from home.
He attended Tuesday night’s rally in Cleveland, having flown with Trump and Hicks on Air Force One to and from the event.
Michael Shear, 52, New York Times White House correspondent, and two other unnamed journalists
The journalists’ positive diagnoses were revealed on Friday.
Two attended the SCOTUS event, where they said they were forced into pen like enclosures at the back, with little space between them.
Hardly any of the guests at the event wore masks, they said.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 3
Thom Tillis, 60, Republican North Carolina Senator
Tillis announced that he’d tested positive after routinely testing negative.
He said he was asymptomatic.
‘Over the last few months, I’ve been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive,’ he said in a statement.
Chris Christie, 58, Former New Jersey Governor
Christie has been at the White House frequently in recent weeks and was at the SCOTUS event.
He tested positive on Saturday and checked himself into hospital, he said, out of an abundance of caution because of his health conditions including asthma.
Nicholas Luna, 29, Chief of Oval Office Operations and ‘body man’
Luna’s job requirements involve following Trump around at all times.
He tested positive on Saturday night, more than 24 hours after President Trump did
Ron Johnson, 65, Republican Wisconsin Senator
Johnson still attended an Oktoberfest event on Friday night while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, despite knowing he had come into contact with others who had tested positive.
He defended it, saying he was asymptomatic
SUNDAY OCTOBER 4
Kellyanne Conway, 53, Former White House Counselor to the President
Conway and her daughter have both tested positive.
The daughter, Claudia, revealed on Tik Tok that her mom had been coughing all over their home
MONDAY OCTOBER 5
Kayleigh McEnany, 32, White House Press Secretary
McEnany had tested negative last week after Trump’s diagnosis and she continued giving press conferences without a mask on until Sunday
Chad Gilmartin. Assistant Press Secretary
Karoline Leavitt, Assistant Press Secretary
Two unnamed staff members who work in the White House residence.
They were told to use ‘discretion’ when discussing it, according to The New York Times
Meadows slapped down the criticism on Monday morning in an interview with Fox.
‘The President expressed appreciation to some of the people outside Walter Reed yesterday. Even that was getting criticism.
‘How do we think that he got here? We came in Marine One. The agent who’s been with him… we took additional precautions with PPE.
‘A number of folks are just trying to make a big deal of that when indeed, I know that myself and some of the Secret Service detail are right there with him trying to make sure he’s protected each and every day and that he returns to the White House as expeditiously as possible.’
Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, also defended the outing. He told Today that the agents involved volunteered to drive him and came under no duress.
‘The President wanted to thank all the supporters. The detail leader and the driver both volunteered for that assignment.’
‘They were not required to do that.
‘They volunteered. There was a piece of plexiglass between the two agents and the President.
‘The President wanted to show his supporters how much he appreciated them and show that you can still continue to function with COVID-19. He’s a leader. He wants to lead. This was the President out thanking his supporters for supporting him.’
In an interview with Good Morning America on Monday morning, Dr. Phillips doubled down on his claims that it was irresponsible.
‘I don’t know what the benefits of this political stunt were, but I do know what the risks were.
‘My concern is that perhaps the Secret Service agents were inside don’t know the full risk of what they were up against.
‘So far as the military and Johns Hopkins physicians who are taking care of this patient, they’re excellent. But they are also under undue pressure and a lot of influence outside of that normal physician-patient relationship.
‘Influence weighs heavy and when we’re dealing with a highly unusual environment like what we’re in right now, the question is – and I’d love to hear the answer from some military physician folks – where does that line between that physician patient relationship come into contact with the commanding officer and subordinate relationship?’
Doctors said the president’s treatment with dexamethasone – a steroid used for patients who require extra oxygen – is the clearest sign yet that Trump may have a severe case of Covid-19.
Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University’s Emergency Medicine division, and a Covid-19 consultant specializing on how to reopen safely, said that the design of the presidential vehicle, specifically modified to protect the passengers from attacks, made the drive even more dangerous.
‘That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack,’ he continued.
‘The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play.
‘Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,’ Phillips pointed out.
‘They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.’
The CDC website explicitly states that COVID patients should stay at home except to get medical care.
In their section advising healthcare workers, the CDC states: ‘In general, transport and movement of a patient with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection outside of their room should be limited to medically essential purposes.’
Other doctors took issue with Trump’s medical team’s rosy picture of his health.
In particular, they were surprised at the suggestion that he could be discharged from Walter Reed on Monday and return to the White House.
‘People can be doing OK, but it can get rocky very quickly,’ said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.
The experts told the Washington Post that Trump’s medical team has withheld key information about his condition, and that he was on a ‘kitchen sink’ regimen of monoclonal antibodies, the anti-viral remdesivir, and steroids.
‘For someone sick enough to have required remdesivir and dexamethasone, I can’t think of a situation in which a patient would be OK to leave on day three, even with the White House’s medical capacity,’ Robert Wachter, chairman of the University of California at San Francisco’s department of medicine, told the paper.
President Donald Trump on Sunday made a last-minute, surprise visit to his supporters outside Walter Reed Medical Center, briefly leaving his hospital room to thank the cheering loyalists.
The president was in a suit, but no protective equipment beyond his face mask. In the front passenger seat was a person wearing a gown, face mask and face shield.
It was unclear whether the driver was similarly protected. The president went into the hospital Friday evening after testing positive for the coronavirus.
A second doctor, Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, echoed Dr Phillips’ condemnation.
‘By taking a joy ride outside Walter Reed the president is placing his Secret Service detail at grave risk,’ he said.
‘In the hospital when we go into close contact with a COVID patient we dress in full PPE: Gown, gloves, N95, eye protection, hat. This is the height of irresponsibility.’
And Dr Craig Spencer, an ER doctor who survived Ebola and is currently director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University, was shocked at the president’s ‘joyride’.
‘Moments after stating ‘I learned a lot about COVID’, the President takes a joyride in an enclosed space with presumably #COVID19 negative people, all while on experimental medications,’ he said.
NBC News’ Peter Alexander said on Sunday night that he had asked why Melania Trump was not visiting her husband, and was told it was because she did not want anyone else to become infected.
‘Reminder: A White House official, on Saturday, told me the First Lady would not be visiting Trump at Walter Reed because ‘she has COVID and that would expose the agents who would drive her there,” he tweeted.
The White House said the president made a short trip and then returned to the presidential suite inside the hospital.
‘President Trump took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed,’ White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
‘Appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it, including PPE. The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.’
The White House press corps issued a statement, condemning the Trump administration for not keeping them informed of his whereabouts.
They had not been warned that the president was about to leave the hospital, breaking the usual protocol of keeping the pool reporters informed.
‘It is outrageous for the president to have left the hospital — even briefly — amid a health crisis without a protective pool present to ensure that the American people know where their president is and how he is doing,’ the White House Correspondents’ Association said in a statement.
‘Now more than ever, the American public deserves independent coverage of the president so they can be reliably informed about his health.’
A crowd of Trump’s supporters gathered outside the Bethesda, Maryland, hospital – and many were not wearing face masks.
People wore ‘Make America Great Again’ paraphernalia, waved campaign signs and hoisted Americans flags.
One woman waved a ‘we [heart] u Mr. Trump sign’ while another man waved a ‘We [heart] Trump’ sign.
The president posted a video to his Twitter account shortly before his visit outside, indicating he was about to make the trip.
He also said he’s been visiting soldiers at the military hospital and has learned a lot about COVID, which has infected more than seven million Americans.
He started his short remarks by thanking the medical personnel taking care of him and added he has ‘gotten to meet some of the soldiers.