This week, at least 12 people who work in the White House or have recently attended events there have tested positive for the coronavirus — including President Donald Trump himself.
The president announced late Thursday night that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus, joining several other high-ranking US government officials who have contracted SARS-CoV-2.
Lawmakers have occasionally tested positive before. In addition to Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who followed Trump’s announcement with a tweet announcing a positive test of his own, two other Republican senators tested positive over the spring and summer: Rand Paul of Kentucky and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. And on Friday evening, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced he had also tested positive.
The virus has also infected at least 14 House members — nine Republicans and five Democrats — since March. But this is the first time the virus, which has killed more than 208,000 Americans, has spread in such a concentrated manner among White House officials, staffers, and members of the press corps.
The White House, in other words, is now a Covid-19 hot spot.
While it’s not clear how the president was exposed, Trump was in regular contact this week with senior counselor Hope Hicks, who tested positive on Thursday afternoon. Hicks had traveled with Trump multiple times this week, including to Tuesday night’s presidential debate in Cleveland.
Multiple people who attended last Saturday’s event at the White House, when Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, have also tested positive. Lee, who also met with Barrett on Tuesday, was in attendance, as was Tillis, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee; former senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway; and University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins, all of whom also tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday.
Barrett, for her part, was diagnosed with coronavirus over the summer but has recovered. It is unknown whether she now carries immunity.
As of early Friday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen have both tested negative, as have Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his wife Jill. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe tested negative as well.
Trump and his staff have been traveling to campaign events for several weeks. Just in the last week, the president has held rallies in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, in addition to the debate in Ohio. Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, tested positive Friday night.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, flew with Trump to the debate, and she is now getting tested and isolating “out of an abundance of caution.”
The White House and Capitol will now likely have to undertake major contact tracing efforts. As Vox’s Dylan Scott explained, the only way to figure out the full extent of the outbreak is contact tracing: “identifying who has been in close contact with the president since he became contagious, and asking them to quarantine to prevent Covid-19 from spreading to others, and to get tested themselves.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump’s positive coronavirus test outside the West Wing of the White House on October 2.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The Trump campaign announced in a statement Friday that he and his family are suspending in-person events. Pence’s campaign travel will continue.
Here’s what we know about who has tested positive — and negative — for SARS-CoV-2 so far.
The list of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus
A brief list of key politicians and officials who have tested negative
Given the level of uncertainty created by this news, Vox has compiled a list of key administration figures who help run the country, key lawmakers who have been in contact with the president, and key Democrats in the 2020 election cycle who have recently gotten negative test results for the virus.
While it could take several days for an individual who has contracted the virus to test positive, these are the initial negative tests. As of 6 pm ET Friday, here’s the list:
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