|White House COVID-19 outbreak|
|Location||White House, Washington, D.C., United States|
|First reported||October 1, 2020|
|Index case||September 30, 2020|
|Arrival date||September 26, 2020|
|Hospitalized cases||At least one, by October 15|
45th President of the United States
The White House COVID-19 outbreak was a cluster of SARS-CoV-2 infections that began in September 2020 and ended in January 2021 that spread among people, including many U.S. government officials, who were in close contact during the COVID-19 pandemic in Washington, D.C. Numerous high-profile individuals were infected, including President Donald Trump, who was hospitalized for three days. At least 48 White House staff members or associates, closely working with White House personnel, tested positive for the virus. The White House resisted efforts to engage in contact tracing, leaving it unclear how many people were infected in total and what the origins of the spread were.
Many of the infections appeared to be related to a ceremony held on September 26 in the Rose Garden for the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, where seating was not socially distanced and participants were mostly unmasked. Trump himself may have been infectious at that point, but he and his entourage attended several subsequent events unmasked, including the first presidential debate against Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29. The next day, Presidential Counselor Hope Hicks was placed in quarantine aboard Air Force One while returning with Trump from a campaign event in Minnesota. Following that, the president proceeded on schedule to an October 1 New Jersey fundraiser where he mingled, unmasked, with donors. More infections were reported in late October among Vice President Mike Pence's staff, and a second large outbreak occurred after Election Day, after Trump held a watch party in the East Room.
Other infections included First Lady Melania Trump; Republican Senators Thom Tillis, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson; Republican Representative Matt Gaetz; Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien; RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel; former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway; former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; Notre Dame president John I. Jenkins; Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany; presidential advisor Stephen Miller; Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. As of November 11, at least 48 people had tested positive. At least one person, White House security office head Crede Bailey, was reported as "gravely ill," having fallen sick in September prior to the Rose Garden event.
The Rose Garden cluster emerged in the final weeks of Trump's campaign for the 2020 presidential election, a little more than a month before the last day of voting, November 3. Commentators were critical of the White House for providing conflicting information about Trump's condition and the timeline of his infection, as well as delaying the disclosure of the initial diagnoses of White House staffers. According to public health experts such as Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the outbreak could have been prevented.
At 12:54 a.m. EDT on October 2, Trump announced via Twitter that both he and the first lady had tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that night. The afternoon of the same day, the White House announced that Trump would be hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland "for the next few days" "out of an abundance of caution", on the recommendation of the medical team headed by Sean Conley, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine who had been the Physician to the President since 2018. Because he was a Navy commander, Conley was obliged to follow the orders of his commander-in-chief. Trump, who was wearing a mask, was briefly filmed walking unassisted from the White House to the Marine One helicopter outside to transport him to Walter Reed. According to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump was hospitalized because he "had a fever and his blood oxygen level had dropped rapidly". The Associated Press reported that "a person familiar with Trump's condition confirmed that Trump was given oxygen at the White House" in the morning before arriving at Walter Reed, although Trump's doctors refused to say whether he had ever been given supplemental oxygen.
Trump had Walter Reed personnel sign non-disclosure agreements in 2019 before they could be involved in treating him. Two doctors refused to sign the NDAs and were not allowed to have any involvement in his care. Medical personnel are already prohibited by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) from releasing personal health information without consent. Medical ethics professor Arthur Caplan called the NDAs redundant.
On Friday afternoon, physicians revealed Trump had been given an experimental course of monoclonal antibodies from drug maker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which further confirmed that Trump had received an "8 gram dose of REGN-COV2". The drug was immediately provided in response to a "compassionate use" request from the medical team. That night, Trump received his first infusion of remdesivir, an antiviral drug that disrupts virus replication. Remdesivir has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but has been used as an emergency treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The extremely aggressive combination was described as "uncharted territory"; Trump is believed to be the first individual to ever undergo both treatments simultaneously.
At an 11 a.m. press conference on October 3, Conley stated that Trump was not currently on oxygen, that he had not had a fever for the past 24 hours, and that he was "doing very well". Conley described Trump as being "just 72 hours into the diagnosis now", raising questions among journalists about when the diagnosis had actually been made, since it had been publicly announced only 36 hours previously. A 72-hour timeline would suggest that Trump actually knew he had the infection on September 30, but proceeded with his plans for a public rally that evening and a fundraiser on October 1. Conley later clarified that he had meant "day three" instead of "72 hours", referring to the then-current time of Saturday morning compared to the diagnosis time of Thursday night (about 36 hours). Doctors also revealed that he had exhibited symptoms on October 1, including a "mild cough, and some nasal congestion and fatigue". When Conley was asked if Trump was on steroids, Conley ended the briefing.
Minutes after the press conference, an anonymous source – later identified as Meadows – contradicted the assessment from the doctors, saying "The president's vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care", adding "We're still not on a clear path yet to a full recovery." Shortly thereafter, Meadows stated on the record the president was "doing very well". That night, Conley warned that Trump was "not yet out of the woods" with regard to his condition. The White House released two photos which showed Trump working at the hospital, according to their captions. White House reporter Andrew Feinberg noted that in one of the photos the president was signing documents that appeared to be blank.
In an October 4 press conference, Trump's medical team claimed that he was "doing really well" after his oxygen level dipped the day before and after he was given the steroid dexamethasone, which works by reducing inflammation in the lungs. Asked if CT scans showed pneumonia or lung damage, Conley said, "There's some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern." He declined to say what was found. When asked why he was reluctant to disclose that Trump had been given oxygen during the October 3 briefing, Conley stated that he did not want to "give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction" and "it came off that we're trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true." White House Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah later stated that it was "a common medical practice that you want to convey confidence, and you want to raise the spirits of the person you're treating," while also asserting that Meadows' anonymous statement to reporters was intended to "give you guys more information just to try to be as transparent as we can," effectively conceding Conley was addressing the president on television, rather than the public. The president was reported to be angry about Meadows' off-the-record assessment.
Later in the day, Trump briefly departed the hospital to ride past a gathering of supporters at the medical center, waving from the back seat of an SUV, before returning. Medical experts stated that the short outing endangered the Secret Service agents accompanying Trump inside the vehicle due to his infection. James Phillips, doctor of emergency medicine at George Washington University and an attending physician at Walter Reed, called the drive-by "insanity" for "political theater" and wrote that Trump had endangered the Secret Service agents in the presidential SUV by potentially exposing them to COVID-19.
Within the Secret Service, some agents expressed outrage or frustration with Trump's behavior. One anonymous agent told journalists, "He's not even pretending to care now." Joseph Petro, a former veteran Secret Service agent and senior official, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that Trump's behavior was part of a longstanding pattern of endangering others; he also criticized Secret Service management for an "inexcusable lack of concern" for the health of agents and their families.
At 2:37 p.m. EDT on October 5, Trump tweeted that he would be discharged from the hospital at 6:30 p.m. that day. However, doctors said in an afternoon news briefing that Trump continued to be treated with dexamethasone and remdesivir. The prospect of Trump's early release astonished infectious disease experts, who noted that Trump planned to be discharged in a period when COVID-19 patients are particularly vulnerable (7–10 days after symptoms first appear) to unpredictable and rapid declines in condition. Outside physicians stated that the depiction of Trump's illness as relatively mild was inconsistent with the aggressive treatment he was receiving. Trump's medical team made cryptic remarks about his status and declined to say whether Trump's CT scans contained indications of pneumonia or lung damage. Trump made phone calls in which he shared the idea of him leaving the hospital feigning frailty, but would then rip open his dress shirt to reveal a Superman T-shirt underneath, as reported by The New York Times.
After reportedly pressuring his doctors to release him, he was discharged and arrived at the White House shortly before 7:00 p.m. He stood for a photo op at the South Portico balcony, where he removed his mask despite being potentially contagious. Having climbed two flights of stairs to the balcony, Trump appeared to breathe heavily as he steadied himself. He then gave a salute before walking inside. He later went back outside with a camera crew to reshoot his entrance.
Within an hour of his arrival Trump released a video message and a promotional video, set to dramatic orchestral music, showing Marine One's flight and landing and his saluting pose from the balcony. In the video message he said, "We're going back to work. We're going to be out front. As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there's danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front. I led. Nobody that's a leader would not do what I did. And I know there's a risk, there's a danger, but that's OK. And now I'm better and maybe I'm immune, I don't know. But don't let it dominate your lives." The message was widely criticized. The New York Times commented, "Trump's statement was meant to cast his illness as an act of courage rather than the predictable outcome of recklessness." He also echoed a message he had earlier tweeted: "Don't be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life" – a message which reportedly angered many survivors of the virus or people who had lost loved ones to the disease. The New York Times tabulated that Trump's tests, treatments, airlifts, and hospital stay, if given to an average American, would have cost more than $100,000. The helicopter rides alone would have cost $40,000 after insurance.
On October 6 and 7, Trump made no public appearances and had an empty public schedule, although he made more than 50 Twitter posts. In the tweets, Trump compared SARS-CoV-2 to the flu and falsely claimed that the flu had higher death rates: "Are we going to close down our Country (because of the flu)? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!" Many doctors expressed alarm at the notion that the public should "learn to live with" the pandemic. Twitter tagged the post with a "misleading and potentially harmful information" flag, and Facebook removed a similar post by Trump. Four hours after the tweet, and after it was flagged by Twitter's staff, Trump tweeted "REPEAL SECTION 230", an attack against Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online platforms from litigation surrounding the content their users post.
Trump's behavior on October 6 caused some White House staffers to wonder if he was being influenced by the cocktail of drugs he had been taking. Aides said that Trump still sometimes sounded as if he was trying to catch his breath; Trump continued to receive remdesivir treatment inside the White House and conducted business without wearing a mask. Dr. Conley said in a memo that Trump has "no symptoms" and is doing "extremely well."
On October 7, Trump insisted on conducting business in the Oval Office, although he was supposed to be quarantined in the residential portion of the White House and rooms had been set up there where he could work. He reportedly entered the Oval Office through an outdoor entrance so as not to encounter staff. Only two aides – Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino – spent time with him there, fully dressed in personal protective equipment.
Trump suggested that he could have contracted COVID-19 from family members of fallen soldiers who were at the September 27 reception for Gold Star Families. He said on a Fox Business interview on October 8 that the family members "come within an inch of my face" and that "They want to hug me, and they want to kiss me." Trump did not wear a mask during the event. The White House later clarified that "based on contact tracing, the data we have, we don't think it arose from that event" while defending holding such events indoors with few or no masks. Trump also said in the interview that he remains on dexamethasone.
Dr. Conley issued a memo that day saying that Trump's condition was stable and he was "devoid of symptoms". He added that "Saturday (October 10) will be day 10 since Thursday's diagnosis, and based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the team has been conducting, I fully anticipate the president's safe return to public engagements at that time." Ten to 20 days is the CDC's recommendation for how long people should isolate themselves after having COVID-19. In an interview that night, Trump said he would like to hold a rally in Florida on October 10 and one in Pennsylvania on the 11th.
On October 10, Trump held his first public event since being diagnosed with the virus, speaking briefly from the South Lawn portico to hundreds of guests. Conley said on October 12 that Trump tested negative on "consecutive days" using rapid antigen tests and that the results of a PCR test, along with CDC guidelines for mild to moderate cases, indicate that he is not infectious. The CDC says it "does not recommend using antigen tests to make decisions about discontinuing isolation" and that negative tests should be confirmed with a PCR test. Later that day, Trump held his first rally since being diagnosed, in Sanford, Florida. The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other news outlets did not send reporters to travel with Trump, citing concerns over basic precautions.
In late October, ABC News learned an unidentified staffer in the vice president's office had tested positive. Days later, it was announced that five close advisers to Pence had tested positive: Marc Short, Chief of Staff to the Vice President; Marty Obst, one of the Vice President's closest advisors; Zach Bauer, the Vice President's "body man;" as well as two unnamed members of Pence's staff.
After initially trying to keep the outbreak quiet, the White House announced that Pence would continue with his schedule, including political rallies, despite having been in "close contact with Mr. Short".
On November 3, 2020, Election Day, Donald Trump held a party for staffers and campaign officials in the East Room of the White House. The party was unprecedented in its size and scope. Similarly to the Barrett nomination, few people wore masks or practiced social distancing. On November 6, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' positive COVID-19 test was made public. Meadows had been diagnosed on the 4th, but tried to keep his results secret, a move that concerned officials. Diagnoses for Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Meadows, Nick Trainor, a director for the Trump campaign, and five White House staffers were also made public on the 6th. The following day, Jared Kushner aide Charlton Boyd was reported to be infected, and Florida Representative Matt Gaetz announced he had developed antibodies for the virus.
On November 9, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and Citizens United head David Bossie tested positive for COVID-19. According to his brother, Carson was "in good spirits". Two days later, Brian Jack, White House political director, and 2016 campaign spokesperson Healy Baumgardner were diagnosed. On November 12, it was revealed that party attendees Corey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign advisor, and Republican strategist and lobbyist Jeff Miller tested positive for coronavirus.
On November 13, media outlets reported that over 130 Secret Service officers had been forced to self-isolate because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had been in close contact with infected individuals.
Two days before the debate between Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the stage at the University of Utah would feature plexiglass barriers separating Pence, Harris, and the moderator Susan Page of USA Today.
At the Rose Garden ceremony on September 26, Pence had sat one row away from Mike Lee, five seats away from Thom Tillis, and three rows away from Kayleigh McEnany. Pence was also with Trump and Melania at the reception for Gold Star Families and was with Trump in the Oval Office the day of the first presidential debate. Pence's physician said that Pence, who tested negative, was not a close contact with anyone who had tested positive and did not need to quarantine. The night before the debate, the Trump White House released a letter from Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, to Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, in which Redfield declared that, based on his negative test results and discussions with Pence's physician, "the CDC concludes from a public health standpoint" that it was safe for Pence to debate. Redfield's letter, which was possibly unprecedented in CDC's history, sparked an outcry from public health experts inside and outside the CDC (such as Angela Rasmussen) because the agency had not conducted an investigation into Pence's contacts; some within the CDC also objected to the letter on the grounds that it constituted a use of Pence's "special privileged access to the nation's top public health official" for a political purpose. Some outside observers also raised continuity-of-government concerns with Pence declining to quarantine.
Despite his known exposure, Pence initially asked to not have a plexiglass barrier on his side of the stage. His spokesperson, Katie Miller, argued that the twelve feet of distance between the participants made the precaution unnecessary, and mocked Harris for using the barrier. The day before the debate, Pence dropped his objections and agreed to the barrier. A number of experts noted that a plexiglass barrier would not prevent airborne transmission, which given the stage setup was the biggest hazard. Though the Biden-Harris campaign sought to have the candidates stand, the Commission opted for the debate participants to be seated, which was the preference of the Trump-Pence.
Despite her known exposure, Karen Pence appeared unmasked, violating prior agreements that all attendees would be masked except for the moderator and candidates.
On October 8, the Commission on Presidential Debates made plans to have the second debate on October 15 be held in a virtual format due to Trump's COVID diagnosis. Trump declined to take part in a virtual debate, while Biden was willing to participate. Following Trump's refusal to participate, the Biden campaign announced that he would instead take questions from voters directly on October 15 via a town hall event hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia. The commission then canceled the debate altogether.
The outbreak among senators caused the Senate to delay its session by two weeks to October 19, but the Judiciary Committee began Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination hearings on October 12. Democrats tried unsuccessfully to delay the fast-track proceedings by raising safety concerns in light of infections among members. Committee members Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, had already tested positive, both having attended the Rose Garden event in September; member Ted Cruz had been quarantining after coming into contact with the former. While the Capitol's mask requirements were generally enforced, Mike Lee, who had been cleared by the attending physician, gave his opening statement without a mask, though he wore a mask at other times. Sens. Cruz and Tillis appeared remotely on the first day of hearings, and participated in person the other days. Committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was at the Rose Garden event and had brief contact with Sen. Lee, said he tested negative on October 2. He did not wear a mask at his seat, but put it on when Lee approached. Congressional safety officials said that the hearing met CDC guidelines, and the chamber was set up with air ventilation systems and distancing between senators.
Further information: COVID-19 pandemic in Washington, D.C.
Epidemiologists and public health experts said that the outbreak had put many people at risk in many places. Those infected carried the virus across the country and attended events in places such as Atlanta, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. At least 6,000 people attended gatherings where they mingled closely with those infected within a week of the Supreme Court nomination ceremony on September 26.
In the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, the outbreaks at the White House and Capitol Hill (where masks are required on the House floor, but not the Senate floor) also presented a risk. The city had made substantial progress in reducing virus transmission through stringent public health laws and a population that largely followed these laws, but the clusters began a reversal and raised concerns that the city's overall infection rate would be affected. As a federal property, the White House is exempt from the District of Columbia's public health rules, and has disregarded local mandates. The Trump White House also did not share positive test results with state or local health agencies.
After President Trump was hospitalized, it was revealed that he was not being tested daily, and the White House was unwilling to reveal the date of his last negative test. In previous months, Trump had twice claimed to test negative: in March, Trump physician Sean Conley had announced that the president had tested negative after he was exposed to COVID-positive individuals at his Mar-a-Lago resort. After one of Trump's personal valets tested positive in May, Trump told reporters "I tested very positively in another sense so – this morning. Yeah. I tested positively toward negative, right. So. I tested perfectly this morning. Meaning I tested negative." At a October 16 event, Trump reported being unable to remember whether he had taken a test in the hours prior to the presidential debate.
As of October 3, 2020[update], a White House spokesperson confirmed that Trump remained active as president and that there had been no transfer of presidential power to Vice President Pence. On October 2, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, next in line for the presidency after Pence, said that the White House had not contacted her about continuity of government.
Some national security analysts said the president's diagnosis put the United States into "uncharted territory" and "deep into the danger zone". Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that Trump's hospitalization raises serious national security concerns and that adversaries should be expected to exploit any vulnerabilities of the United States. However, several former defense officials downplayed concerns of foreign opportunism and argued that the U.S. national security apparatus including the nuclear command-and-control elements of that system is resilient enough to withstand the impact of an ill or incapacitated president. Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Mick Mulroy said, "Unless symptoms are severe enough for the commander-in-chief to be incapacitated, it would not require a change of the chain of command," and that it was unlikely an adversary would use the situation to "test" the U.S.
On October 2, the Pentagon issued a statement saying, "There's no change to the readiness or capability of our armed forces. Our national command and control structure is in no way affected" by Trump's diagnosis.
According to a large study of COVID-19 survivors, one in five of those infected develops a mental illness within three months.
There was some concern that Trump's steroid treatment could affect his mental state. One expert commented: "Some patients may develop psychiatric symptoms after being treated with steroids including euphoria, mood instability, rage or psychosis. It is rare, but occurs often enough that we recognize them as undesirable side effects of steroid therapy." Professor of Emergency Medicine Esther Choo warned "we tell people that it can make them feel really hyper. It can make them behave very strangely." Among patients administered dexamethasone, about 30% develop "moderate psychiatric symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, mania, or delirium". About 6% develop psychosis.
After Trump left the hospital for a motorcade excursion and posted over a dozen all-caps tweets, it was speculated that the president was suffering from "steroid-induced psychosis". Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and professor at Brown University, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "I would never want to say the president is experiencing steroid-induced psychosis, but it is certainly concerning to see some of his actions today in the wake of this potentially deadly diagnosis and infectious disease."
According to reporting by Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair, Donald Trump Jr. expressed concerns on October 4 that the president was "acting crazy". Privately, White House aides had concerns about the effects of medications causing Trump's "animated mood". On October 5, Trump tweeted that he was "Feeling really good" and felt "better than I did 20 years ago", contributing to some speculation that his mental state was a side effect of medication.
On October 3, Trump issued an all-caps tweet calling for passage of a coronavirus stimulus bill. On October 4, it was publicly announced that Trump had been administered dexamethasone the previous day. On October 6, Trump unexpectedly announced on Twitter that he was halting negotiations on a stimulus bill. The announcement caused another sudden drop in the stock market, and Speaker Pelosi questioned if his steroid use was affecting his decision-making. Trump reversed this decision in another tweet sent seven hours later.
Commenting on the tweets, Dr. Choo observed: "Anytime he's doing a Twitter storm in all caps, it looks a little manic." Choo described Trump as a "presidential guinea pig" since "He's on all these medications, he's on that monoclonal antibody cocktail that we don't even know the side effects to, because it hasn't been well studied. Then he's on the Remdesivir, which is really a brand new medication in the context of COVID, which itself can cause alterations to your brain and your behaviour. And then add on the steroids."
On October 8, Speaker Pelosi announced plans for a meeting the following day to discuss the 25th Amendment.
The White House infections could have been prevented, according to Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and White House Coronavirus Task Force member. Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, has stated that the outbreak and specifically Trump's diagnosis would lead to more calls for transparency about Trump's health as well as conspiracy theories about how he was infected. Dr. Megan Ranney, a leading voice on personal protective equipment, said that Trump's infection was a "preventable but predictable national security risk". Julie Pryde, head of the Champaign-Urbana health district, said that the White House outbreak was preventable with basic infection-control measures.
Some medical experts noted that dexamethasone is typically administered in severe and critical cases of infection, to suppress an immune system overreaction that attacks vital organs which can lead to death. Dexamethasone has not been shown to be effective in milder cases of the disease. Others noted that such steroids can have mood-altering side affects ranging from depression to mania, even delirium and psychosis. There was also a risk of harmful drug interactions by administering several therapeutics at once. Some experts noted a so-called "VIP syndrome," in which a prominent patient insists on directing his own medical care, suggesting the president may have sought aggressive treatment without understanding the potential risks. As a Navy doctor, Conley is obliged to follow orders of the commander in chief. After Trump extensively promoted hydroxychloroquine as a defense against infection in spring 2020, Conley administered him a two-week regimen of the drug, despite no studies finding it was effective and it had potentially dangerous side effects.
The response from the U.S. public was mixed, and often split along ideological lines. Some supporters of Joe Biden said they were not surprised at the outbreak, due to a lack of precautions taken by Trump and other Republicans. Some people said they did not believe the diagnosis: some liberal doubters said they could not believe Trump due to the volume of false and misleading information that Trump had spread in the past, while some QAnon followers posited conspiracy theories asserting that Trump's diagnosis was "part of an elaborate plan to isolate the leader while violent retribution is taken against believed evil-doers." Comedian Michael Che wished Trump "a very lengthy recovery" on the Saturday Night Live news satire sketch Weekend Update.
An October 2–3 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that American disapproval of Trump's handling of the pandemic had increased from the previous week, with 65% of registered voters agreeing with the statement "if President Trump had taken coronavirus more seriously, he probably would not have been infected." Another poll on October 6 revealed that 21% of respondents were more likely to wear a mask due to the news of Trump acquiring the disease.
Twitter announced that any posts wishing for Trump's death would be removed for violating the platform's terms of service. Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley criticized Twitter for not taking threats against them seriously, pointing to longstanding posts calling for their deaths that had not been removed. Facebook and TikTok announced similar policies.
On October 2, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that he and Jill Biden send their "prayers for the health and safety" of Donald and Melania Trump. He took all of his negative political ads off the air following the announcement of Trump's diagnosis. His running mate Sen. Kamala Harris said that she and her husband Doug are sharing their "deepest prayers for the health and recovery of the president and the first lady." Former president Barack Obama extended his "best wishes" to Trump and said that he and Michelle Obama hope for a speedy recovery for the Trumps. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "I always pray for the president and his family that they're safe" and said that she received the news with "great sadness". Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wished Donald and Melania Trump and White House staffers a "speedy recovery".
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed he had not visited the White House since August 6 because of his private concerns that safety protocols were not being observed.
Many politicians around the world expressed wishes for a quick recovery; others commented on the lack of response to the pandemic and the downplaying of the virus. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and others issued statements of support over the outbreak through social media. Others were more critical of the outbreak; French government spokesman Gabriel Attal warned that the virus spared no one, even those skeptical about its reality and seriousness. Radoslaw Sikorski, a European Parliament member and former Polish foreign minister, tweeted that Trump should not try to treat himself with bleach, referring to Trump's earlier suggestion to try using disinfectants as a COVID-19 treatment "by injection inside or almost a cleaning."
Shortly after the announcement that Trump had tested positive, misinformation and conspiracy theories began proliferating social media. Many of the conspiracy theories were politically motivated, aided by conflicting and contradictory information announced to the public by the White House, the presidential medical team, and Trump himself (through his tweets).
Michael Moore promoted the conspiracy theory that Trump might be faking his diagnosis. Similar theories were posted on social media, postulating that Trump was feigning the illness so he could quickly recover and downplay the threat of COVID-19, delay the 2020 presidential election, or to distract the public from the reporting about his tax returns. Conversely, the vice presidential debate on October 7 triggered "a wave of speculation" that Pence might be symptomatic.
Some theories were spread by supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who believe that COVID-19 is a narrative constructed by a Democratic Party deep state to seize power in the United States, and that Trump's positive diagnosis was tactical, as part of a larger plan to arrest Hillary Clinton.
White House personnel held multiple events in the days prior to the outbreak. On Sep 26, a nomination event for Judge Barrett was held. The following day, Gold Star families attended an event. White House personnel traveled to Ohio to attend the first presidential debate, as well as campaign events in Duluth and Bedminster, New Jersey. On Nov 3, prior to the second outbreak, a watch party was held in the East Room of the White House.
|Was event attended by the patient?||Severity||Date the diagnosis was first reported publicly|
|Location and event:||Barrett nomination||Gold Star Day||Ohio debate||Duluth rally||Bedminster fundraiser||Election Night party|
|Patient||Position||Sep 26||Sep 27||Sep 29||Sep 30||Oct 1||Nov 3|
|Multiple unidentified staffers||White House staffers||Exact presence unknown||Positive||Sep 16|
|Crede Bailey||Head of White House Security Office||Became ill "over Labor Day weekend" (September 5–7), diagnosed before Barrett nomination event, hospitalized in late September||Hospitalized in ICU for three months; discharged to rehabilitation center; permanently disabled by COVID-19||Oct 6|
|Hope Hicks||Senior Counselor to the President||Isolating||Unknown||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 1|
|Donald Trump||45th President of the United States||||Hospitalized; Discharged||Oct 2|
|Mike Lee||US Senator from Utah||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 2|
|Thom Tillis||US Senator from North Carolina||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 2|
|Melania Trump||First Lady of the United States||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 2|
|Kellyanne Conway||Former Counselor to the President||Unknown||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 2|
|Ronna McDaniel||Chair of the Republican National Committee||Attended D.C. fundraiser with Trump on Sep 25||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 2|
|Michael D. Shear & wife||White House correspondent for The New York Times||On Sep 26, Shear visited the White House only for a required COVID-19 test in advance of a trip to Pennsylvania aboard Air Force One, which he then took with the president.||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 2|
|Bill Stepien||Trump campaign manager||Traveled to Cleveland debate aboard Air Force One with President, First Lady, Hope Hicks, and Steven Miller||Unknown||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 2|
|Al Drago||White House press room photojournalist||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 2|
|One unidentified journalist||White House press room journalist||Unknown||Positive||Oct 2|
|11 unidentified persons||Debate preparation staff or media||Positive||Oct 2|
|Nick Luna||Body man to Donald Trump||Canceled||Unknown||Positive||Oct 3|
|Chris Christie||Former Governor of New Jersey||Hospitalized; Discharged||Oct 3|
|Also in close contact with Trump at an indoor Amy Coney Barrett meeting on Sep 26, at debate prep meetings, and at a press conference on Sep 27|
|John I. Jenkins||President of the University of Notre Dame||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 3|
|Ron Johnson||US Senator from Wisconsin||Exposed to unnamed individual on Sep 14||Positive but asymptomatic||Oct 3|
|Claudia Conway||Daughter of Kellyanne Conway||Exposed to Kellyanne Conway||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 4|
|Kayleigh McEnany||White House press secretary||Canceled||Unknown||Positive but asymptomatic||Oct 5|
|Greg Laurie||Senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 5|
|Chad Gilmartin||Principal assistant press secretary||Positive||Oct 5|
|Karoline Leavitt||Assistant press secretary||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 5|
|Two unidentified staffers||White House residence staff||Regularly exposed to First Family||Positive||Oct 5|
|Jayna McCarron||U.S. Coast Guard aide to the president||Regularly exposed to Trump||Positive||Oct 6|
|One unidentified military personnel||President's valet||Regularly exposed to Trump||Positive||Oct 6|
|Adm. Charles Ray||Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 6|
|Jalen Drummond||Assistant White House Press Secretary||Positive||Oct 6|
|Stephen Miller||Senior Advisor to the President||Unknown||Positive||Oct 6|
|Salud Carbajal||U.S. Representative from CA-24||Reportedly exposed to Sen. Mike Lee||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 6|
|Harrison W. Fields||Assistant press secretary||Regularly exposed to Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany||Positive||Oct 7|
|Gen. Gary Thomas||Marine Corps assistant commandant||Exposed to Admiral Charles Ray||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 7|
|Mike Bost||US Representative from IL-12||Exposed to Mike Lee||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 9|
|Trish Scalia||Wife of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia||Positive and symptomatic||Oct 14|
|Barron Trump||Son of Donald and Melania Trump||Announced Oct 14, diagnosed on Oct 1 along with parents||Positive||Oct 14|
|Marc Short||Pence Chief of Staff||Regularly in close contact with VP Mike Pence||Isolating||Positive||Oct 24|
|Marty Obst||Pence advisor||Regularly in close contact with VP Mike Pence||Positive||Oct 24|
|Zach Bauer||Body man to Pence||Regularly in close contact with VP Mike Pence||Unknown||Positive||Oct 24|
|Two unidentified staffers||Members of Pence's staff||Regularly in contact with VP Mike Pence||Positive||Oct 24|
|Mark Meadows||White House Chief of Staff||Travels with Trump on "almost every trip"||Positive||Nov 6|
|Cassidy Hutchinson||Aide to Mark Meadows||Regularly in contact with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows||Positive||Nov 6|
|Five unidentified staffers||Members of Trump's staff||Regularly in contact with President Trump||Positive||Nov 6|
|Nick Trainor||Trump campaign battleground states director||Regularly in contact with President Trump||Positive||Nov 6|
|One unknown campaign staffer||Member of Trump's campaign staff||Regularly in contact with President Trump||Positive||Nov 6|
|Charlton Boyd||Close aide to Jared Kushner||Regularly in contact with Jared Kushner||Positive||Nov 7|
|Matt Gaetz||US Representative from FL-01||Present at Trump Rally on Oct 16. Accompanied Trump bus to Tallahassee rally on Oct 19. Spoke and signed autographs at a Trump Rally on Oct 23. Unmasked in close contact with Trump Campaign on Nov 3||Asymptomatic, positive for antibodies||Nov 7|
|Ben Carson||United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development||Exposed to Trump at campaign event in Atlanta on Sep 25.||"Desperately ill"
received monoclonal antibodies
|Unknown number of White House staffers||White House staffers||Many were presumably attendees at Trump's Election Night party on Nov 3.||Positive||Nov 9|
|David Bossie||Head of Citizens United; appointed by Trump to lead election challenge effort||Positive||Nov 9|
|Brian Jack||White House Director of Political Affairs and Assistant to the President||Positive||Nov 11|
|Healy Baumgardner||2016 Trump campaign spokesperson and energy lobbyist||Positive||Nov 11|
|Corey Lewandowski||2016 Trump campaign manager||Attended Four Seasons Total Landscaping event on Nov 7||||Positive||Nov 12|
|Jeff Miller||Republican strategist and lobbyist||Positive||Nov 12|
|Richard Walters||Chief of staff of the Republican National Committee||Positive||Nov 12|
|At least 30 Secret Service officers||Secret Service officers assigned to protect the President||Regularly exposed to President Trump||Positive||Nov 13|
|Chuck Grassley||US Senator||Attended Trump rally on Nov 1 in Dubuque, Iowa||Positive but asymptomatic||Nov 17|
|Andrew Giuliani||White House aide, Rudy's son||Golfs with Trump, attended Rudy Giuliani press conference on November 19||Positive||Nov 20|
|Rick Scott||US Senator, former Governor of Florida||Attended Trump rally on November 2||Positive and symptomatic||Nov 20|
|Donald Trump Jr.||Son of Donald Trump||Attended Nov 1 rally in Dubuque||Positive||Nov 20|
|Regular contact with Donald Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle|
|Kelly Loeffler||US Senator and candidate for special election||Attended rally with Rick Scott and David Perdue on November 13||Positive||Nov 21|
|Boris Epshteyn||2020 Trump campaign strategic advisor for coalitions||Attended Rudy Giuliani press conference on November 19||Positive and symptomatic||Nov 25|
|Rudy Giuliani||Former mayor of NY and Trump's personal attorney||Exposed to son, Andrew Giuliani, and others with Covid. Appeared unmasked before Michigan lawmakers on December 2 and Georgia lawmakers on December 3||Hospitalized; Discharged||Dec 6|
|Jenna Ellis||Trump campaign attorney||Regularly exposed to Rudy Giuliani. Attended Christmas party for Senior White House staff unmasked on December 4.||Positive||Dec 8|
|Devin Nunes||US Representative from California||Asymptomatic, positive for antibodies||Dec 11|
|David Bernhardt||Interior Secretary||Regularly in close contact with others in White House. May have attended recent Christmas parties in White House.||Positive||Dec 17|
|Did the exposed individual attend the event?||Current status|
|Location and event:||Barrett nomination||Gold Star Day||Ohio debate||Duluth rally||Bedminster fundraiser||Election Night party|
|Exposed Individual||Position||Sep 26||Sep 27||Sep 29||Sep 30||Oct 1||Nov 3|
|Jared Kushner||Trump advisor, son-in-law||Canceled||Unknown||Negative|
|Ivanka Trump||Trump advisor, daughter||Canceled||Negative|
|Eric Trump||Son of Donald Trump||Negative|
|Lara Trump||Wife of Eric Trump, daughter-in-law of Donald Trump||Negative|
|Dan Scavino||White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, and Director of Social Media||Canceled||Unknown||Negative|
|Mike Pence||Vice President of the United States||Reportedly negative|
|Karen Pence||Second Lady of the United States||Negative|
|William Barr||Attorney General of the United States||Negative, Quarantining|
|Amy Coney Barrett||Federal appellate judge, nominee to the Supreme Court||Negative (previously infected)|
|Alex Azar||US Secretary of Health and Human Services||[I]||Also exposed to Trump on Sep 28 at an event announcing a COVID-19 testing initiative.||||Negative|
|Joe Biden||Former Vice President, President-elect of the United States||Negative|
|Jill Biden||Former Second Lady, First Lady-elect||Negative|
|Eugene Scalia||US Secretary of Labor||Negative|
|Ben Sasse||US Senator from Nebraska||Negative|
|Deb Fischer||US Senator from Nebraska||Negative|
|Kelly Loeffler||US Senator from Georgia||Negative|
|Josh Hawley||US Senator from Missouri||Negative|
|Harry R. Jackson Jr.||Pentecostal bishop||Attended Trump events on Oct 6 in Cleveland Heights, on Oct 15 in Miami, and on Oct 23 in Raleigh||Deceased by Nov 9|
|Jim Jordan||US Representative from OH-04||Negative|
|Chris Coons||US Senator from Delaware||Negative|
|Lisa Blunt Rochester||US Representative from DE-AL||Negative|
|Chris Wallace||Fox News anchor, debate moderator||Negative|
|Tiffany Trump||Daughter of Donald Trump||Unknown|
|Kimberly Guilfoyle||Trump advisor, romantic partner of Donald Trump Jr.||Unknown (previously infected)|
|Pat Cipollone||White House Counsel||Unknown|
|Rudy Giuliani||Former Mayor of New York City, Trump advisor||Unknown[I]||Underwent prophylactic treatment|
|Giuliani participated in debate prep with Trump and Christie. In a Fox News interview, Giuliani exhibited a cough. In a Bloomberg interview, Giuliani reported undergoing prophylactic treatment.|
|Mike Crapo||US Senator from Idaho||Unknown|
|Marsha Blackburn||US Senator from Tennessee||Unknown|
|Mark Esper||US Secretary of Defense||Unknown|
|Gen. Mark Milley||Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff||Unknown|
|Joni Ernst||US Senator from Iowa||Exposed to Sen. Mike Lee on Oct 1 at Judiciary Committee meeting.||Negative|
|Tate Reeves||Governor of Mississippi||Exposed to Trump on Sep 28 at an event announcing a COVID-19 testing initiative||Negative|
|Mike Turner||US Representative from OH-10||Exposed to Trump on Sep 28 at event featuring Lordstown Motors||Negative|
|Robert B. Ford||CEO of Abbott Laboratories||Exposed to Trump on Sep 28 at an event announcing a COVID-19 testing initiative||Negative|
|Betsy DeVos||US Secretary of Education||Exposed to Trump on Sep 28 at an event announcing a COVID-19 testing initiative||Negative|
|Steven Mnuchin||US Secretary of the Treasury||Exposed to Trump on Sep 30 at an Oval Office meeting||||Negative|
|Jason Miller||Senior advisor to the Trump re-election campaign||Traveled to Cleveland for the Presidential Debate aboard Air Force One||Unknown||Negative|
|Paula Reid||White House correspondent for CBS News||Exposed to Kayleigh McEnany and another staffer at press briefing on Oct 1||Awaiting results|
|Rob Portman||US Senator from Ohio||Exposed to Trump on Sep 28 at event featuring Lordstown Motors||Unknown|
|Peter Navarro||Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy||Exposed to Trump on Sep 28 at event featuring Lordstown Motors||Unknown|
|Gen. John E. Hyten||Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff||Quarantined after exposure to Adm. Charles Ray.||Unknown|
|Gen. James C. McConville||Chief of Staff of the Army||Suspected quarantined after exposure to Adm. Charles Ray.||Unknown|
|Gen. David H. Berger||Commandant of the Marine Corps||Suspected quarantined after exposure to Adm. Charles Ray.||Unknown|
|Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.||Chief of Staff of the Air Force||Quarantined after exposure to Adm. Charles Ray.||Unknown|
|Gen. John W. Raymond||Chief of Space Operations||Quarantined after exposure to Adm. Charles Ray.||Unknown|
|Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson||Chief of the National Guard Bureau||Suspected to be quarantined after exposure to Adm. Charles Ray.||Unknown|
|Adm. Mike Gilday||Chief of Naval Operations||Suspected to be quarantined after exposure to Adm. Charles Ray.||Unknown|
|Gen. Paul Nakasone||Director of the NSA||Suspected to be quarantined after exposure to Adm. Charles Ray.||Unknown|
|Robert C. O'Brien||United States National Security Advisor||Traveled to Cleveland for the Presidential Debate aboard Air Force One||Unknown (previously infected)|
|Todd Ricketts||Co-owner of Chicago Cubs, and Republican National Committee finance chairman||Exposed to Trump and McDaniel at the Sep 25 fundraiser||Unknown|
|Thomas O. Hicks Jr.||Co-chair of the Republican National Committee||Exposed to Trump and McDaniel at the Sep 25 fundraiser||Unknown|
|Michael Boulos||Business executive, romantic partner of Tiffany Trump||||Unknown|
The security office head, Crede Bailey, [...] was taken to the hospital in late September, the administration official said.
Carson was there, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar – who did wear a mask.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be among the administration members joining Trump at the White House to watch the election results.