White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany revealed she tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday morning and will start the “quarantine process,” becoming the latest person in President Trump’s orbit to get the virus.
“After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms,” McEnany said in a statement. “No reporters, producers, or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit.”
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Other White House staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 at this point include senior adviser Hope Hicks and director of Oval Office operations Nick Luna. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien also tested positive for COVID-19.
Former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has also tested positive and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who participated in debate prep with the president recently, did too and was admitted to the hospital over the weekend.
In her statement, McEnany defended her decision to hold a press briefing last week the same day Hicks tested positive. The White House Correspondents Association has said several journalists have also tested positive.
“I definitively had no knowledge of Hope Hicks’ diagnosis prior to holding a White House press briefing on Thursday,” McEnany said, adding that “as an essential worker, I have worked diligently to provide needed information to the American people at this time.”
McEnany added: “With my recent positive test, I will begin the quarantine process and will continue working on behalf of the American people remotely.”
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McEnany’s positive COVID-19 test comes as Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has said Trump could be discharged from Walter Reed Military Medical Center, where he has been receiving treatment for the novel coronavirus since Friday, and return to the White House as early as Monday afternoon.
“Spoke to the president this morning,” Meadows said. “He continued to improve overnight and is ready to get back to a normal working schedule.”
He added that the president “will meet with his doctors and nurses this morning to make further assessments of his progress.”
Meadows added, “We are still optimistic that he will be able to return to the White House later today, with his medical professionals making that determination later today.”
Meadows, during an interview on “Fox & Friends,” said that the White House would know about the president’s potential release by “the earliest” Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, as White House staff awaits the president’s return, McEnany said Sunday that the White House would not be releasing the names or the exact number of staffers who have become infected with the novel coronavirus – backtracking on a previous comment by another spokeswoman.
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McEnany attributed the decision to privacy concerns. Previously, Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications, had said that the numbers of infected staffers possibly would come out.
“There are privacy concerns,” McEnany said. “We take seriously safeguarding the information of personnel here in the White House.”
The president and first lady Melania Trump announced they tested positive for COVID-19 early Friday, just before 1:00 a.m., after it was revealed that Hicks tested positive on Thursday.