Number of Covid cases grows among people who attended White House ceremony
October 3, 2020
The number of people from President Donald Trump’s inner circle who have tested positive for the coronavirus is growing, with at least seven confirmed cases tied to an event in the Rose Garden last weekend.
On Saturday, Trump officially announced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the next U.S. Supreme Court justice at an outdoor ceremony attended by more than 150 people, many who did not wear masks or social distancing.
In addition to the president and first lady, at least five other who were at the ceremony have been confirmed to have Covid-19: former top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, Republican Sens. Thom Tillis from North Carolina and Mike Lee from Utah, Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins and a White House journalist.
Conway is the latest to confirm she was infected.
“Tonight I tested positive for COVID-19,” she said in a statement Friday night. “My symptoms are mild (light cough) and I’m feeling fine. I have begun a quarantine process in consultation with physicians. As always, my heart is with everyone affected by this global pandemic.”
Trump, who is being treated at Walter Reed Hospital, where he is receiving experimental treatment and expected to remain for several days, revealed in a tweet his and Melania Trump’s diagnoses early Friday, sending everything from the upcoming presidential election to the Supreme Court confirmation into question.
Democrats were quick to call for a delay in Barrett’s confirmation hearing, but Republicans pushed back and said they intend to move forward with the process. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a tweet Friday that the hearings remain scheduled to begin Oct. 12 and raised the possibility of virtual hearings.
“We now have two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have tested positive for COVID, and there may be more. I wish my colleagues well,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a tweet. “It is irresponsible and dangerous to move forward with a hearing, and there is absolutely no good reason to do so.”
Both Tillis and Lee are members of the Judiciary Committee.
“Over the last few months, I’ve been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive,” Tillis said. “I will be following the recommendations of my doctor and will be self-isolating at home for 10 days and notifying those I’ve been in close contact with.”
Other members of Trump’s inner circle, including his children, said they have tested negative for the virus.
Conway’s daughter, Claudia Conway, posted a video on TikTok announcing her mother’s diagnosis even before the elder Conway issued a statement. Claudia Conway said she is “furious” that her mother, who brushed off wearing a mask during the pandemic, exposed the family to Covid-19.
Kristen Welker is a White House correspondent for NBC News.
Alicia Victoria Lozano is a Los Angeles-based digital reporter for NBC News.