A growing number of people in and around the White House have tested positive for the coronavirus – including president Donald Trump himself.
The president announced late Thursday evening that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus and had joined several other high-level U.S. government officials who signed SARS-CoV-2. Trump went to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on Friday evening for treatment.
Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah and Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina announced that they tested positive. Both attended an event that last weekend announced the appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Several other people, including former White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, also tested positive Friday after attending the White House event. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced Saturday morning that he had tested positive.
Kellyanne Conway announced her positive result in a Twitter post late Friday night. Alex Brandon / AP
Many top Republicans attended without masks or social distancing. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie greets the guests after the press conference. He announced his positive result on Saturday, October 3rd. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images
Sens. Thom Tillis and Mike Lee are among several people who have tested positive since attending the event. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
For his part, Barrett was diagnosed with coronavirus over the summer but has recovered. It is not known if she now carries immunity. It's worth noting that in addition to the relatively well-known senators, press officials, and White House officials who tested positive, lesser-known staff and security officials may have been infected with coronavirus.
But it's not just the one event. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) also announced on Saturday that he had tested positive. Johnson wasn't at the event, but he attended lunch with fellow Republican senators this week.
In other words, the White House is now a hotspot for Covid-19.
While it's not clear how the president was exposed, Trump has been in regular contact with this week Senior Counselor Hope Hicks, who tested positive Thursday afternoon. Hicks had traveled with Trump several times this week, including to the presidential debate on Tuesday evening in Cleveland, Ohio.
Over the summer, Kentucky Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Bill Cassidy were diagnosed with Covid-19 but have successfully recovered. The virus has infected at least 14 members of the House of Representatives – nine Republicans and five Democrats – since March. However, this is the first time the virus, which has killed more than 208,000 Americans, has spread in such a concentrated manner among officials, staff and members of the White House press corps.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen both tested negative early Friday afternoon, as did Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his wife Jill. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also tested negative.
Trump and his staff have been traveling to campaign events for several weeks. Just last week, in addition to the Ohio debate, the president held rallies in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. Bill Stepien, Trump's campaign manager, tested positive on Friday night.
Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, flew to debate with Trump, and she is now being tested and isolated "from a plethora of caution".
One way to mitigate the outbreak of the event is to conduct a full contact tracing operation, although it is unclear whether the White House does. As Vox's Dylan Scott explained, the only way to find out the full extent of the outbreak is through contact tracing: “Identify who has been in close contact with the President since it was infected and request quarantine to avoid the spread of Covid-19 to prevent others and yourself from being tested. "
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House on Oct.2 about President Trump's positive coronavirus test. Drew Angerer / Getty Images
The Trump campaign announced in a statement Friday that he and his family are suspending in-person events. Pence's campaign tour continues and he plans to take part in the vice presidential debate on Wednesday against Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris.
Here's what we know about who has tested positive – and negative – for SARS-CoV-2 so far.
The list of people who tested positive for the coronavirus
A short list of key politicians and officials who tested negative
Given the uncertainty caused by this news, Vox has compiled a list of metrics from the administration that is helping run the country, key lawmakers who have been in contact with the president, and key Democrats in the 2020 election cycle who recently received a negative test got results for the virus.
While it can take several days for a person infected with the virus to test positive, these are the first few tests to be negative. Starting at 9 a.m. ET Saturday, here's the list:
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