As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread among staffers close to the President, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that she has tested positive for coronavirus, Axios reports.
McEnany joins the ranks of at least 18 notable White House staff, journalists and Republican Congressman who have also tested positive after close contact with President Trump, including Campaign Manager Bill Stepien, Assistant to the President Nicholas Luna, Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway and Senators Mike Lee, Thom Tillis and Ron Johnson. Before testing positive, McEnany told reporters that the White House would not disclose a full list of staffers who had tested positive citing “privacy concerns.” McEnany said, “We take seriously safeguarding the information of personnel here in the White House.”
President Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive in the wee hours of the night following a fundraising trip to New Jersey last Thursday. During the morning before, public relations advisor Hope Hicks tested positive for coronavirus just before the President boarded Marine One for the fundraiser. Fox News reports that staff that were in close contact with Hicks were pulled from the trip, including Spokesman Judd Deere. McEnany was not on that trip. Trump’s personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley told reporters that the President had a “mild cough and some nasal congestion, fatigue,” before getting on the helicopter, reported Yahoo News.
In a press conference over the weekend, McEnany refused to clarify when President Trump’s last negative test had occurred prior to testing positive. “I’m not going to give you a detailed readout with time stamps every time he is tested,” she said. “He is tested regularly and the first positive test he received was after his return from Bedminster.”
Meanwhile, President Trump has posted several pictures of himself continuing to work at Walter Reed Hospital on Twitter, in hopes of maintaining an appearance of strength. Among the posts is a picture of President Trump signing a paper which appears to be blank, and a short video in which a cough was poorly edited out. Sunday, the President stirred controversy when he left Walter Reed in a motorcade to reassure and wave to supporters waiting outside the hospital.
Dr. Conley has presented an optimistic outlook for Trump’s illness over the weekend, however, after refusing to give any specific details about President Trump’s vitals, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows contradicted the President’s physician saying, “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.” Sources also confirmed that Donald Trump had received oxygen at the White House Friday at noon, not too long after receiving his positive test, despite Conley refusing to give many details on the matter.
The President tweeted that he is planning to be discharged by 6:30, Monday afternoon. However, there is still skepticism as to whether he is in recovery. According to Axios, Brian Garibaldi, a John Hopkins doctor familiar with President Trump’s situation, hinted that the President may leave the hospital while continuing treatment.
Contradictions and unclear messaging out of the White House has resulted in the emergence of conspiracy theories about the President’s condition, reports Yahoo News. David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” suggested that the entire story might be a staged incident in hopes of sparking an “October surprise” event. Simon suggested that, “Trump is claiming a positive test, will present as asymptomatic, or claim himself cured with bleach, then dismiss COVID again as a Democratic hoax? I’m wrong, right?”
Trump supporter and Conservative author Kurt Schlichter echoed this suggestion, writing “I’m not saying that Donald Trump is pretending to have COVID to cause the left to freak out in a frenzy of murder wishes and to wash all the garbage stories off the front page, but I’m not saying I’m not saying that.”
The fringe conspiracy group QAnon have also offered their opinion, saying that Donald Trump contracted coronavirus on purpose as a part of a grand scheme to arrest Hillary Clinton, reports Vice.