A week ago, more than 100 people gathered in the White House Rose Garden to celebrate President Trump’s third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. Guests mingled, hugged and kissed on the cheek, most without wearing masks. An indoor reception followed the outdoor ceremony.
Seven days later, at least seven people who attended the ceremony have tested positive for the coronavirus, including the president. Several more of the president’s closest aides and advisors have also tested positive.
The president and first lady
President Trump announced early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive. In introducing Judge Barrett and pledging a swift confirmation in the Senate, the Trump campaign was finally making progress toward shifting the focus of the campaign away from the coronavirus.
Less than a week later, the president would fly to Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment after his own diagnosis. Barrett tested negative on Friday.
Trump’s now former senior adviser sat in the front row. She tested positive on Friday and said her symptoms are mild. Conway also reportedly participated in debate preparations inside the White House later in the week.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, received a positive test result on Friday. He was seen hugging and kissing other guests and not wearing a mask at the event.
The Utah Republican is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and met with Judge Barrett later in the week, again without masks. Lee says he will isolate for 10 days.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., also received a positive test on Friday. Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee attended the Saturday announcement. Tillis wore a mask during the ceremony, but several of his colleagues did not.
Tillis later participated in a Senate debate in North Carolina.
He is the second judiciary committee member to test positive. He said he will isolate for 10 days. More positives from the Judiciary Committee could impact Barrett’s confirmation timetable.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Friday the hearings will proceed as planned.
Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has also tested positive. He is not on the Judiciary Committee and did not attend the Rose Garden event.
Father John Jenkins
Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins attended Saturday’s event to celebrate Barrett, an alum who taught for 15 years at Notre Dame’s law school. After testing positive, he said in a statement that he “regrets his error in judgement” in deciding not to wear a mask.
A White House journalist who covered the Rose Garden ceremony also tested positive.
Other Trump Officials And Aides Test Positive
Three other officials close to the president have also tested positive this week.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien announced a positive test late Friday night.
Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest aides, tested positive on Thursday. Her positive diagnosis appears to have spurred the president getting tested on Thursday night. Hicks felt unwell after a campaign event Wednesday night and attempted to isolate on the Air Force One flight back to Washington. She did not attend the Rose Garden event.
Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, has also tested positive. The RNC says McDaniel has been home in Michigan since Saturday. [Copyright 2020 NPR]