White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has tested positive for COVID-19, just days after the president revealed a similar diagnosis. McEnany said she has tested positive “while experiencing no symptoms.”
McEnany, who is the ninth high-ranking official in a growing list of Trumpworld figures to test positive for the highly contagious virus, last interacted with reporters on Sunday evening—and was maskless.
“No reporters, producers, or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit,” she said in the statement. “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 will continue working on behalf of the American People remotely.”
Top Trump top aide Hope Hicks was confirmed to have the virus on Thursday, just hours before the president himself announced he and the first lady had also contracted it.
While the press secretary does frequently interact with Trump, she did not travel with him to a Thursday fundraiser in New Jersey after learning of Hicks’ positive COVID-19 diagnosis. McEnany, however, stresses she did not know Hicks tested positive when she spoke to reporters Thursday and did not quarantine or self-isolate despite her close contact with the White House adviser and the president.
“I definitively had no knowledge of Hope Hicks’ diagnosis prior to holding a White House press briefing on Thursday,” McEnany wrote Monday.
On Friday, McEnany, 32, appeared on Fox News and removed her mask to interact with reporters on the White House driveway. According to the White House Correspondents Association, at least three journalists who had been at the White House over the last week have tested positive for the coronavirus. On Monday, multiple news outlets also reported at least two other members of the White House press shop—Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt—have tested positive.
BREAKING: Another WH press staffer has tested positive for COVID.
Chad Gilmartin is notable b/c he was NOT listed as traveling with the president nor as being part of debate prep.
This could be the next layer of COVID exposures – while working *after* POTUS was positive.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) October 5, 2020
“We wish Kayleigh, the president and everyone else struggling with the virus a swift recovery,” the White House Correspondents Association said in a Monday statement. “As of this moment we are not aware of additional cases among White House journalists, though we know some are awaiting results.”
Ben Williamson, a senior communications adviser at the White House, tweeted Monday in defense of McEnany’s lack of a mask use, stating that, during her last interaction with reporters, the press secretary “briefly removed her mask at the mic to answer questions, was there for two questions and only 58 seconds (would not constitute ‘sustained contact’ per the CDC), and was socially distanced from reporters in the area.”
Trump revealed early Friday morning that he had tested positive for the deadly virus that has killed nearly 210,000 Americans. Hours later, he was moved to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he is still being treated as of Monday.
At Least 8 Who Attended Rose Garden Event Have COVID
The president and many in his inner circle have been spotted maskless at recent campaign rallies, as well as an event in the White House Rose Garden last weekend where Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee.
McEnany’s diagnosis makes her the ninth attendee of the event for nominee Amy Coney Barrett, where few masks were seen on faces and many flouted social-distancing guidelines with hugs and close sitting arrangements. Among those who attended and have since tested positive are Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and University of Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins.
Photos of the gathering show McEneny seated just behind Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Sen. Lee, and Vice President Mike Pence.
And while the Rose Garden ceremony was held outside, which public-health experts have stressed can help limit the spread of the deadly virus with proper social distancing, there were also intimate, mask-free gatherings indoors.
There is no confirmation that Jenkins or his fellow attendees contracted the virus in the Rose Garden, but the fact that so many tested positive within days raises questions about whether it may have been a superspreader event.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says coronavirus symptoms generally appear two to 14 days, and the Rose Garden patients fell ill within that window.
Michael D. Shear, a New York Times reporter who believes he contracted COVID-19 either at the White House or on Air Force One, said in an interview with CNN he still has had no contact with any officials since his positive diagnosis—despite the White House’s insistence that “full contact tracing” was taking place.
“It’s now, you know, 10 days, 11 days, whatever, since I think I was probably infected on that Saturday. I have not been contacted by the White House,” Shear said in an interview with CNN, noting he visited the White House last Saturday ahead of taking a flight on the presidential plane. “Nobody from the White House has said ‘boo’ and asked anything about where I was, who I talked to, or who else I might have infected. I think that just shows you they’re not taking it seriously, at least as it pertains to theirselves.”
In April, McEnany took over the press secretary role after serving as a Trump campaign spokesperson. As the administration’s fourth press secretary, McEnany has been a staunch defender of the president’s COVID-19 response.
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