More than 20 people in and around the White House have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks — including President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and their son, Barron Trump.
The president announced on October 2 that he and Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, joining several other high-ranking US government officials who have contracted SARS-CoV-2. Trump was given an experimental antibody treatment and oxygen at the White House, before being moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland for three days.
Melania Trump recuperated at home. Barron Trump, his mother announced on October 14, tested positive after his parents; the first lady said he was asymptomatic and has since tested negative.
Some prominent officials in the Trump administration have recently tested positive as well, including presidential adviser Stephen Miller, as well as press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and at least four members of her staff. McEnany — like others in the White House cluster — failed to immediately quarantine after Trump’s diagnosis, and she appeared in front of reporters without a mask in the following days.
While the administration has refused to conduct contact tracing, many Covid-19 cases in the cluster are believed to have originated around the time of a White House event — which took place indoors and outdoors — on September 26 honoring the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the federal coronavirus task force has called the gathering a “superspreader event,” criticizing it for being a “situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks.”
A number of attendees tested positive for the coronavirus in the days following the event, including GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina; former senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway; and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien.
Barrett, for her part, was diagnosed with Covid-19 over the summer but has recovered. It is unknown whether she now carries immunity.
But it’s not just the one event. On October 3, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) announced he had tested positive. Johnson was not at the Barrett event, but he did attend a lunch with other Republican senators last week. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) said on October 14 he was isolating after a positive test. There was some concern Barrett’s confirmation hearing could contribute to spread given many senators — including Lee, who said he is “no longer contagious” — are attending in person.
There have been more cases of political figures in recent days, which do not immediately appear linked to the cluster: Joe Biden’s campaign announced on October 15 that Kamala Harris’s communications director and a flight crew member tested positive for coronavirus. The campaign said that others, including Harris and Biden, have repeatedly tested negative in recent days, and that it is conducting contact tracing.
Beyond the relatively well-known senators, members of the press, and White House officials who have tested positive, less well-known government staff members and security officers have been infected with the coronavirus as well. A number of such cases have been confirmed, including McEnany’s deputies, Trump aide Nicholas Luna, and military officials assigned to the White House. Vice Commandant Charles Ray of the Coast Guard tested positive, leading other military leaders to enter quarantine.
The White House, in other words, became a Covid-19 hot spot.
Over the summer, Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Bill Cassidy were diagnosed with Covid-19 but have successfully recovered. The virus has also infected more than 15 House members since March. But this is the first time the virus, which has killed more than 215,000 Americans, has spread in such a concentrated manner among White House officials, staffers, and members of the press corps.
While it’s not clear how the president was exposed, Trump was in regular contact last week with senior counselor Hope Hicks, whose positive coronavirus test was revealed on Thursday, October 1. Hicks had traveled with Trump multiple times ahead of his diagnosis, including to the September 29 presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen have both repeatedly tested negative, as have Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his wife Jill. Some other Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, have tested negative as well.
Following his recovery, Trump has resumed campaigning, promising to hold a rally nearly every day between now and November 3. He kicked these off with events in Florida and Pennsylvania, and spent part of each event incorrectly stating that those who have had the coronavirus are immune to reinfection.
While the rallies are all expected to be held outdoors, they have, thus far, not featured social distancing or universal mask wearing, fueling concerns that they will create new coronavirus clusters, both in the locales in which they are held, and among Trump’s staff. And the speculation is not unfounded; local officials believe a rally the president held on September 18 in Bemidji, Minnesota, caused at least nine cases.
Here’s what we know about some key figures who have tested positive — and negative — for SARS-CoV-2 so far.
People in the White House cluster who have reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus
This list includes people who attended the September 26 Barrett event and/or have had close recent contact with the White House.
- President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump
- Barron Trump, the president and the first lady’s son
- Hope Hicks, senior adviser to President Trump
- Stephen Miller, senior White House adviser
- Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary
- Karoline Leavitt, McEnany aide
- Chad Gilmartin, McEnany aide
- Jalen Drummond, McEnany aide
- A fourth, unnamed, McEnany aide
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)
- Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA)
- Kellyanne Conway, former senior White House counselor
- Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager
- Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor
- Nicholas Luna, an assistant to President Trump
- John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame
- Greg Laurie, a pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California
- Three journalists from the White House press corps, including Michael Shear of the New York Times and photojournalist Al Drago
- A White House press staffer, according to the White House Correspondents’ Association
- A military aide, according to CNN
- A presidential valet, according to Bloomberg
Crede Bailey, the head of the White House security office, was hospitalized with Covid-19 in September, according to Bloomberg. He reportedly became sick before the Amy Coney Barrett event.
Two housekeeping staff members at the White House tested positive in early September, according to the New York Times.
Vice Commandant Ray, Sen. Johnson, and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel have also recently tested positive. Johnson and McDaniel were not at the Barrett event, but McDaniel had contact with Trump in the days before it.
A brief list of key politicians and officials who have tested negative
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, some recent negative tests have been made public. Here’s a partial list so far:
- Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Jill Biden
- Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence
- Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
- Attorney General Bill Barr
- Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe
- White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
- Republican Reps. Pete Stauber and Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who traveled with Trump ahead of his positive test
- Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, who had been in contact with Trump ahead of his positive test, according to a CBS reporter in Atlanta
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
- Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
- Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
- Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)