Hope Hicks, one of President Trump’s closest confidantes, has tested positive for COVID-19. She traveled with the commander in chief to campaign rallies in Minnesota and Ohio this week, as well as to Tuesday’s presidential debate, and she was seen in photos both with and without a face covering.
The president confirmed the news late Thursday after it was first reported by Bloomberg. “So she did test positive,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. He said he and the First Lady were tested for the virus but won’t get the results until later Thursday or Friday.
“Whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” he said.
“We’ll see what happens. Who knows,” Trump said. “I spend a lot of time with Hope. So does the First Lady.”
A White House spokesman said safety protocols were in place to protect the president despite members of his circle contracting the virus. “The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously,” spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement to Bloomberg. “White House Operations collaborates with the physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible, both on complex and when the president is traveling.”
There was reportedly no evidence that the commander in chief had contracted the virus. According to The New York Times, White House officials have been aware since Wednesday evening that Hicks had contracted the virus.
Hicks, who is said to be showing symptoms and was quarantined on Air Force One while traveling back from Minnesota, is the latest in a growing circle around the president to contract the new coronavirus—Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive in May, as did Trump’s own valet. Others include National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, a Marine One pilot, a White House cafeteria worker, and multiple Secret Service agents.
Trump has publicly mocked the use of face masks as a protective measure against COVID-19 despite the consensus of public health officials, including his own advisers, that they effectively slow the virus. He himself wears one infrequently, and he has poked fun at former Vice President Joe Biden for donning one. Against the advice of public health officials, he has hosted indoor campaign rallies in recent weeks, frequently shrugging off concerns that the events could exacerbate the pandemic by joking that the rallies count as “peaceful protests.”
Trump on Thursday changed plans for an upcoming campaign rally in Wisconsin, opting not to hold the event in La Crosse after opposition from local officials who were concerned about a spike in COVID-19 cases. Instead, the rally will now go ahead in Janesville, a town located about 175 miles away that is not considered a “red zone” for the virus.
The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected over 7 million.