It's only been 36 hours since President Trump announced that he had tested positive for Covid-19, but since then, a staggering nine additional people have come forward to announce that they tested positive too. In most cases, the individuals are from within Trump's close cirlce and had attended events with the president recently.
Below is a breakdown of everyone who has tested positive in the past few days.
Kellyanne Conway's teengage daughter and incredibly effective thorn in her side, Claudia, was the first to announce that her mom tested positive. She let it slip in a TikTok video. In a follow-up video she wrote, "I'm furious. wear your masks. don't listen to our idiot fucking president piece of shit. protect yourselves and those around you." Conway followed up her daughter's TikTok with an announcement of her own. "Tonight I tested positive for COVID-19. My symptoms are mild (light cough) and I'm feeling fine," tweeted Conway. "I have begun a quarantine process in consultation with physicians. As always, my heart is with everyone affected by this global pandemic." Conway had spent lots of time with the president recently, including several days at the White House for debate prep and an afternoon in the Rose Garden for the announcement of Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
The public first learned of Melania's diagnosis through President Trump's early Friday morning Tweet. Soon after that, the first lady posted her own message saying, "As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together." In a second Tweet, she said she was experiencing "mild symptoms" but was "overall feeling good."
Governor Chris Christie
After an evening of speculation among pundits, former Governor Chris Christie announced early Saturday afternoon that he had also tested positive. "I just received word that I am positive for COVID-19," Christie wrote. "I want to thank all of my friends and colleagues who have reached out to ask how I was feeling in the last day or two. I will be receiving medical attention today and will keep the necessary folks apprised of my condition." Christie was among a group of advisors who helped Trump prepare for the debates on Sunday and Monday at the White House. According to ABC News, none of the staffers present during debate prep wore masks.
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)
"Tonight my COVID-19 test came back positive,” wrote Sen. Tillis in a Tweet on Friday night. “I’m following the recommendations of my doctor. Thankfully, I have no symptoms and feel well. COVID is a very contagious virus. If you were exposed or start to display symptoms, please call your doctor, self-isolate, and get tested.”
Tillis is the second member of the Senate Judiciary committee to test positive. Senator Lee also serves on the committee. The double diagnosis threatens to derail Senator McConnell's timeline for scheduling a vote on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett ahead of the 2020 presidential election. If Tillis and Lee aren't able to return to the Senate by October 15th, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsay Graham will be without a quorum, and consequentially unable to begin the process of voting on the nomination.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
Republican Senator Mike Lee (UT), was among the first to share on Friday morning that he had tested positive for Covid-19. Like many others who have since tested positive, Lee attended Trump's Supreme Court announcement in the Rose Garden last Saturday. “Yesterday morning, I was experiencing symptoms consistent with longtime allergies,” wrote Lee on Twitter. “Out of an abundance of caution, I sought medical advice and was tested for COVID-19. Unlike the test I took just a few days ago while visiting the White House, yesterday’s test came back positive. On advice of the Senate attending physician, I will remain isolated for the next 10 days.”
Lee's diagnosis also serves as an important reminder that someone who tests negative once, can still test positive a few days later. According to the CDC, "you may test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during this illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then."
Rev. John Jenkins
John Jenkins is the president of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He also attended the Supreme Court Rose Garden event and was pictured not wearing a mask and shaking hands with other attendees. While it's not certain that Jenkins contracted the virus from Saturday's event, experts say the timing of his diagnosis means it is quite likely. According to CNN, Jenkins tested positive on Friday. He is currently isolated at home with mild symptoms.
In a letter to the Notre Dame community, Rev. Jenkins wrote, " I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden. I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so. I especially regret my mistake in light of the sacrifices made on a daily basis by many, particularly our students, in adjusting their lives to observe our health protocols."
Chairman of the Republican National Convention, Ronna McDaniel, learned that she had contracted COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times broke the news on Twitter.
BREAKING - Ronna McDaniel, the RNC chairwoman, tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, multiple sources say. She has mild symptoms. She was last with POTUS last Friday and has been in Michigan since then.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 2, 2020
In a statement, RNC spokesman Mike Reed said, "After a member of her family tested positive for COVID-19, the Chairwoman was tested for the virus. On Wednesday afternoon, she got confirmation she was COVID-19 positive. She has been at her home in Michigan since last Saturday."
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Unlike many of the others on this list, Republican Senator Ron Johnson didn't attend Judge Barrett's nomination ceremony in the Rose Garden last Saturday. Why? Because he was already in quarantine after a possible prior exposure. On Saturday morning though, CNN reported that Johnson had tested positive "after being exposed to someone with the virus earlier this week." One possible source of exposure was a mid-week lunch date among GOP senators, including the COVID-positive senators Thom Tillis and Mike Lee.
Trump's campaign manager received his diagnosis on Friday night. According to Politico, Stepien is experiencing "mild flu-like symptoms." Stepein had recently flown on Air Force One with President Trump and Hope Hicks. The three were traveling to and from Cleveland, Ohio for the presidential debates. Stepien is also reported to have been by Trump's side in the White House on Monday. While Stepien quarantines at home, Deputy Campaign Manager Justin Clark is expected to oversee things from Trump's headquarters in Alrington, Virginia.
Trump's beloved senior adviser Hope Hicks was the very first person from his inner circle to test positive for COVID-19. Her test results preceded Trump's and helped kick off the news flurry of test results that the coutry has been experiencing for the past two days. Trump made the official announcement during an interview on Fox News on Thursday evening. At the time, Bloomberg had reported that Hicks fell ill during a campaign rally in Minnesota, one day after the presidential debates.
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