Ever since US President Donald Trump announced that he and his wife Melania Trump had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, public health officials in cities and states that he has visited over the last few days have been scrambling to trace out who else may have been exposed to the virus.
With just weeks to go before the US election day, President Trump’s schedule over the last few weeks has been jam-packed with events and rallies across the US. In the last two weeks alone, he has attended events in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Jersey, as well as the first presidential debate against his Democratic contender Joe Biden in Cleveland.
The Trump campaign has been widely criticised for continuing to host in-person events and rallies despite the threat posed by Covid-19. As of now, at least seven other people — including top government officials — who were in close contact with the US President at these events have since tested positive for the infection.
But how did Trump contract the illness in the first place?
It is almost impossible to ascertain where the US President may have contracted the disease. He has attended multiple rallies and fundraisers across the country in the last few days, and has been seen wearing a face mask only on some occasions.
In fact, President Trump has faced tremendous backlash for downplaying the importance of wearing face masks and social distancing during the pandemic. At the presidential debate on Wednesday, he even mocked former Vice-President Joe Biden for insisting on wearing masks at all his press events.
A couple of hours before he made the announcement about himself and the First Lady, Trump had tweeted that one of his closest advisers had tested positive for Covid-19.
“Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!” he had posted on Twitter.
Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
Where has Trump travelled over the last two weeks?
Friday, September 25: The US President attended an event with the Latin American community in Doral, Florida in the morning, before heading to a campaign event in Atlanta later that day. That night he hosted a fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where Republican National Convention (RNC) chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was also in attendance. She later tested positive for Covid-19.
He then attended a campaign rally at Newport News, Virginia, along with his adviser Hope Hicks, who tested positive earlier this week.
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Saturday, September 26: This was the day of the now infamous Rose Garden event, where Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his pick for the Supreme Court. At least six people who attended the nomination ceremony that day, tested positive for Covid-19. A White House reporter who was covering the event also tested positive.
Around 8 pm that night, thousands of Trump supporters flocked to an airport hangar in Middletown, Pennsylvania to see the President at a campaign rally.
Sunday, September 27: Trump visited the National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia, followed by a news conference at the White House. He later prepared for his first presidential debate against Biden along with around five or six other people, the New York Times reported.
That night he attended the Gold Star families reception along with First Lady Melania, Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen. Dozens of attendees were seen packed at the White House reception, largely sans face masks.
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Monday, September 28: The US President attended an event with Lordstown Motors on the White House South Lawn that morning. In the evening he chaired a coronavirus briefing with top government executives in the Rose Garden.
Tuesday, September 29: Trump travelled to Cleveland for the 90-minute debate against his Democratic contender Joe Biden. The two men, who were tested before the debate, stood a decent distance from one another on the stage. Holly Hicks was part of Trump’s entourage for the event and travelled on board Air Force One along with the President.
Wednesday, September 30: Trump travelled to Minnesota for a fundraiser and an outdoor rally in Duluth. Hicks was present for this trip as well. She reportedly began to feel unwell during the return trip and isolated herself on board Air Force One.
Thursday, October 1: This was the day Hicks tested positive for Covid-19. Despite this, Trump flew to New Jersey for a private fundraiser. A few of his aides who came in close contact with Hicks chose not to accompany Trump. The President later announced that he and Melania were beginning their “quarantine process”.
Friday, October 2: Early on Friday, Trump announced that he had tested positive for Covid-19. His personal physician Dr Sean Conley later released a statement that the president and first lady “are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence”.
However, Trump was eventually flown to the Walter Reed military hospital after he began complaining of a few minor symptoms.
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How many people, who came in close contact with Trump, have tested positive?
So far, at least seven people in the president’s circle have tested positive for Covid-19. Of these, five cases have been linked to the crowded ceremony at the White House Rose Garden last Saturday, where Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court Nominee.
In addition to President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania, attendees of the event who tested positive include, former White House Counsellor Kellyanne Conway, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, the Rev. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame University, New York Times reported.
Apart from Trump’s top adviser Hope Hicks, his campaign manager Bill Stepian and Republican National Convention (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, too, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Stepien was among a group of senior Trump staffers who had been tested, but he is the only one who has received a positive test result till now. On Friday, he announced that the Trump campaign will not be hosting physical in-person events for the time being and will be “temporarily” switching to virtual events.
MSNBC put together a list 👀 pic.twitter.com/oyYx14DQFe
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) October 2, 2020
Experts have pointed out that it may take several days for a person to develop symptoms after they are exposed to the virus. So anyone who has been tested within a day or two of exposure is likely to receive a negative test result, despite being infected..
How many people, who came in close contact with Trump, have tested negative?
Meanwhile, several of the top officials who came in contact with the President in the last week have also confirmed that they have tested negative for the illness.
Former Vice-President Joe Biden, who shared the stage with Trump at the first presidential debate, announced that he and his wife Jill had tested negative on Friday. His running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, too, tested negative.
I’m happy to report that Jill and I have tested negative for COVID. Thank you to everyone for your messages of concern. I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 2, 2020
Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, Trump’s children Ivanka and Barron, as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Judge Amy Coney Barrett and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have also tested negative for Covid-19.
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