University of Notre Dame president tests positive for COVID-19 after attending White House Rose Garden ceremony with President Trump
October 2, 2020
The University of Notre Dame’s president has tested positive for COVID-19, a school spokesman confirmed Friday morning, less than a week after he attended Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination ceremony at the White House without wearing a mask.
The Rev. John Jenkins has mild symptoms and contracted the illness “from a colleague he was in regular contact with at Notre Dame,” according to university spokesman Paul Browne.
Jenkins, who’s led the Catholic university since 2005, has drawn scrutiny in recent weeks for appearing not always to follow COVID-19 safety precautions.
In August, Jenkins sent an apology to students after he was photographed taking a group picture with students standing around him, and within 6 feet, when the school reopened for in-person classes. The photo, which was shared widely on social media, appeared to show everyone wearing masks.
More recently, Jenkins came under fire for not wearing a mask when he attended the Rose Garden ceremony for Coney Barrett’s nomination Saturday. Photos from the event also show Jenkins in close proximity to other guests and shaking hand with attendees.
Jenkins also apologized to students and faculty for that in a message Monday. He said he had a rapid COVID-19 tested before the event and that it came back negative.
“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,” the message says. “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.”
Jenkins’ diagnosis comes to light as President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive and shared the results early Friday.