The CDC mandates that anyone who even just might have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 should “stay home” and “separate themselves from others.”
President Donald Trump, though, kept up a rigorous and largely mask-less campaign schedule even after members of his inner orbit tested positive.
While it was Hope Hicks’ positive test, reported Thursday, that sent the political world into an uproar, new reporting Friday revealed that Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tested positive on Wednesday. According to the New York Times, she was with Trump in Michigan last Friday. Trump himself announced his positive diagnosis early Friday morning.
That means that as early as Wednesday, the Trump camp had a solid, official diagnosis and knowledge that the President could have been infected. While the White House claims that Trump is tested daily, and presumably would have tested negative all the days leading up to his positive test, it is widely known that an infected person in the early stages of the virus may still test negative.
The CDC is explicit and cautious: A person should start quarantining if he or she was “within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more.” That quarantine should begin after the contact with the infected, or suspected-to-be-infected, person and last for 14 days. Trump should have entered quarantine as soon as McDaniel tested positive, and stayed that way for two weeks. Instead, he and his entourage loaded onto Air Force One.
On Wednesday, Trump flew with a whole host of allies and aides: per CNN, the group included the not-yet-diagnosed Hicks, Reps. Tom Emmer (R-MN), Pete Stauber (R-MN), Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), White House aides Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner, Dan Scavino and Mark Meadows.
Upon landing in Minnesota, Trump also had an unmasked conversation with Republican state lawmakers and a U.S. Senate candidate, per the Duluth News Tribune.
Here’s Trump with the Minority Leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives:
It was an honor to greet President @realDonaldTrump as he arrived in Minnesota for his latest campaign visit.
— Kurt Daudt (@kdaudt) September 30, 2020
He then attended a private, closed-door fundraiser in Shorewood, Minnesota before heading to a rally in Duluth attended by 3,000 people, according to the local fire department. Trump and much of the crowd was unmasked.
On the flight back, Hicks reportedly felt ill and flew in an isolated cabin.
Hicks tested positive at some point, and the news broke on Thursday. According to Bloomberg, some White House aides knew about the diagnosis but intended to keep it secret.
Thursday afternoon, Trump attended a fundraiser in Bedminster, New Jersey. According to the Washington Post, he was in close contact with “dozens” of campaign supporters during a round table event. Rich Roberts, a pharmaceutical executive and major Republican donor who was in attendance, told the Lakewood Scoop that about 19 people met with Trump for 45 minutes to an hour. The Republican National Committee said Friday that everyone at the event had tested negative, passed a temperature check and was kept six feet away from Trump.
Trump reportedly wore a mask neither at the event nor on the flight.
He was tested when he returned to the White House.
That evening, in prerecorded remarks, Trump addressed the Al Smith Dinner remotely.
“I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight, and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country,” he said.