After months of wishing that the coronavirus would “disappear, like a miracle” and insisting that the United States was “rounding the corner” in its fight against the pandemic, President Trump announced on Friday that he and the first lady had tested positive for the virus.
Now, the White House itself is a hot spot of sorts, the center of a contact tracing effort that extends to the upper reaches of American politics and government. It is not clear exactly when Mr. Trump was infected or by whom, but there is little doubt that the virus was circulating around him for the past week:
Last Friday, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, mingled with Mr. Trump at a glitzy fund-raiser at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. The president seemed to be in good cheer and good health.
The next afternoon, he gathered Republican lawmakers and members of conservative interest groups in the White House Rose Garden to announce Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee.
Ms. McDaniel was not present, having traveled to her home in Michigan. It would be a few days before she began to feel ill and then tested positive for the virus. But the newly renovated Rose Garden was packed with supporters of Mr. Trump, including at least eight Republican senators, few of them wearing masks. Judge Barrett, who is said to have already had the coronavirus and has since recovered, met earlier with the president in the Oval Office without wearing a mask.
Later Saturday evening, Mr. Trump flew to Middletown, Pa., for a campaign rally. A White House reporter on the flight would later test positive for the virus.
Back at the White House on Sunday, Mr. Trump and Hope Hicks, one of his closest advisers, huddled with a handful of other aides, none of whom wore masks, for debate preparation in the Map Room. The group included Stephen Miller, the president’s speechwriter and top domestic policy adviser; Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey; and Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York.
On Monday, the group moved their session into the Oval Office. Ms. Hicks sat on the couch. And on Tuesday, they gathered again for a few hours in the Map Room, prepping the president for the debate that evening.
Before the debate, White House officials who had been in close contact with Mr. Trump and Ms. Hicks headed to Capitol Hill to introduce Judge Barrett to senators. Vice President Mike Pence; Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, posed for photographs in the Mansfield Room with Judge Barrett and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.
The lawmakers and White House officials posed without masks.
Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, left for the debate in Cleveland on Tuesday afternoon. Ms. Hicks traveled with the president, as did Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio.
On Wednesday, as Ms. McDaniel received her positive test results, Mr. Trump met in the Oval Office with Mr. Meadows, his chief of staff, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, to discuss the stalled negotiations with Democrats on a compromise stimulus bill.
On Wednesday evening, the entire Republican congressional delegation from Minnesota — Representatives Pete Stauber, Jim Hagedorn and Tom Emmer, the chairman of House Republicans’ campaign arm — flew with Mr. Trump to another campaign rally. In a photo they later posted on Twitter, none were wearing masks on the plane.
On Thursday morning, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who had attended the Rose Garden event, began to feel ill, with symptoms consistent with longtime allergies, according to his office. Around the same time, Ms. Hicks was tested.
The White House did not announce that Ms. Hicks had tested positive before the news leaked out on Thursday evening. Hours later, after midnight, Mr. Trump turned to Twitter to announce: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Charting a Coronavirus Infection
Following the course of a typical Covid-19 case.
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