White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced in a tweet on Monday that she has become the latest member of the Trump administration to have tested positive for coronavirus.
“After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms,” McEnany wrote in a statement. “No reporters, producers, or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit.”
McEnany said she would continue to serve as press secretary remotely.
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Several individuals close to the president have tested positive for COVID-19 within just a few days of each other, including President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. White House aide Hope Hicks, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Trump’s presidential campaign manager Bill Stepien have also tested positive for the virus.
In total, at least 18 individuals connected to Trump’s reelection campaign or who had attended the White House event announcing Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court have tested positive for coronavirus.
Some have criticized McEnany for meeting with members of the White House Press Corps after Thursday when she had come into direct contact with Hicks, who was known to be positive for COVID-19 at the time of their interaction.
On Friday, McEnany had appeared on Fox News and also met with reporters without wearing a mask in the White House driveway. She also spoke with reporters on Sunday evening during a press gaggle, removing her mask before speaking.
White House communications adviser Ben Williamson claimed McEnany was “socially distanced” from reporters in the area during that interaction, and only spoke with them for 58 seconds. He further argued her actions were compliant with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding limiting “sustained contact” with others.
However, the CDC also recommends that individuals who come into contact with others who have contracted coronavirus should themselves quarantine for 14 days after their last known exposure. Those recommendations are not overridden by a negative test result.
In a statement regarding McEnany’s diagnosis, the White House Correspondents’ Association said they were “not aware of additional cases among White House journalists, though we know some are awaiting test results.”
“We strongly encourage our members to continue following CDC guidance on mask-wearing and distancing — especially when at the White House — and urge journalists to seek testing if they were potentially exposed,” the organization added.
In spite of precautions being taken by McEnany and other White House staffers, it still doesn’t appear that the administration is yet taking the pandemic seriously. Even after Trump received his diagnosis, his preferred adviser on coronavirus Scott Atlas, who has pushed controversial and unproven views about the disease, was seen without a mask on the White House grounds on Friday. Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, similarly wasn’t wearing a mask on that day.