WASHINGTON — Hours after President Donald Trump announced he and Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus, his chief of staff, who has traveled alongside the president this week, addressed a group of reporters at the White House without a mask.
Mark Meadows emerged from the White House with two aides, both of whom were wearing masks, to update reporters in a 10-minute briefing.
“I’ve obviously been tested,” Meadows told a reporter when asked why he wasn’t wearing a mask. “We’re hopefully more than 6 feet away, and if there’s any concern there from a guidance standpoint — we have protocols in place.” In July, the DC mayor mandated masks for anyone leaving their residences.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a mask “in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household."
And while most of the nation awakened to the news that the president tested positive for the coronavirus, Meadows, one of the first top officials to address the nation publicly after the news of the positive test, began not with an update on the president’s health, but instead the economy.
“Good morning," he said. "Obviously we had a great jobs report.”
It’s just the latest surreal example of how the administration, including Trump, has played down the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans.
About a minute into the press briefing, Meadows said the president has “mild” symptoms but is in “good spirits” and is “very energetic.” He would not, however, specify the president’s treatment, including whether Trump was taking hydroxychloroquine, a controversial drug he’s lauded in the past.
Meadows would not go into detail about contact tracing in the White House but confirmed the administration became aware of Hope Hicks’s diagnosis on Thursday, before Marine One took off to a fundraiser in New Jersey with Trump aboard.
He also said the president’s doctors are continuing to monitor his and the first lady’s health and will provide updates later Friday.
The chief of staff added that he and several others have tested negative, including the president’s son-in-law and other top aides.
“We’ve tested all of our core staff, and I can tell you that Mr. Kushner, Mr. Scavino, myself — a number of us have been tested, have come back with negative results. And, yet, at the same time, I fully expect that as this virus continues to go on, other people in the White House will certainly have a positive test result. We’ve got the mitigation plan in place to make sure that the government not only continues to move forward, but the work of the American people continues to move forward.”