WASHINGTON – A feverish and exhausted President Donald Trump was going through the end of the week at a military hospital for treatment of COVID-19, as new cases emerged among some of his top advisers and allies. Attention focused in particular on last Saturday’s White House event introducing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, with a few participants reporting they had tested positive for the virus.
Among them: previous White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, the president of the University of Notre Dame, and at least two Republican lawmakers – Utah Sen. Mike Lee and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. Despite the fact that the function declaring Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s selection was held outdoors, attendees sat intently together and few wore masks. Some additionally blended at a smaller event inside the White House.
The White House said Trump’s expected stay of “a few days” at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was precautionary and he would continue to work from the hospital’s presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to keep up his official duties. The White House physician said he was being treated with redelivering, an antiviral medication, after taking another experimental drug at the White House.
Trump walked out of the White House on Friday evening wearing a mask and gave a thumbs-up to reporters but did not speak before boarding Marine One. Members of the aircrew, Secret Service agents and White House staff wore face coverings to protect themselves from the president on board the helicopter.
Trump first revealed that he had tested positive in a tweet about 1 a.m. Friday — hours after he returned from a Thursday afternoon political fundraiser. He had gone ahead to the event, saying nothing to the crowd though knowing he had been exposed to an aide with the disease that has infected millions in America and killed more than 1 million people worldwide.
First lady Melania Trump also tested positive and has said she has mild symptoms. She is believed to be isolating at the White House.
Also testing positive: Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien. Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Stepien received a diagnosis Friday and is experiencing “mild flu-like symptoms.” Stepien, who joined Trump at Tuesday’s first presidential debate, plans to quarantine until he recovers. On Saturday, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin became the third Senate Republican to publicly confirm testing positive in the current spate of infections, although Johnson was not at last week’s Rose Garden event.
Trump’s diagnosis came during an already turbulent period in Washington and around the world, with the U.S. gripped in a heated presidential election and the pandemic taking a heavy human and economic toll. Trump’s immediate campaign events were all cancelled, and his next debate with Democrat Joe Biden, scheduled for Oct. 15, is now in question.
Both Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have tested negative, their campaign said. Vice-President Mike Pence tested negative for the virus Friday morning and “remains in good health,” his spokesman said. Pence was to resume his campaign schedule after his test.
Barrett, who was with Trump and many others on Saturday and has been on a Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers, also tested negative, the White House said. It was confirmed that she had a mild case of COVID earlier this year and has now recovered.
Many White House and senior administration officials were undergoing tests,, but the full scale of the outbreak around the president may not be known for some time as it can take days for an infection to be detectable by a test. Officials with the White House Medical Unit were tracing the president’s contacts.
Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP
News source: The Associated Press