WASHINGTON: Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s closest aides, has tested positive for the coronavirus after spending time in close proximity to the president this week.
Hicks, who serves as counselor to Trump and traveled with him to a rally Wednesday, tested positive Thursday, according to an administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private health information. She is the closest aide to Trump to test positive so far.
President Donald Trump said he and first lady Melania Trump are awaiting their own test results after a top aide he spent substantial time with this week tested positive for Covid-19.
“Whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” Trump said during a call-in interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity on Thursday night. “ just went for a test and we’ll see what happens.”
He traveled to New Jersey Thursday for a fundraiser, though his social media director Dan Scavino and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who were originally set to join him, were replaced at the last minute by other aides.
The positive test is yet another reminder that the virus continues to spread, even as Trump has tried desperately to pretend it no longer poses a danger. Since the beginning, he, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines – including those issued by his own administration – such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Instead, Trump has continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters. The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million nationwide.
Hicks traveled with the president multiple times this week, including aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, to a rally in Minnesota Wednesday, and aboard Air Force One to Tuesday night’s first presidential debate in Cleveland.
Hicks, one of the president’s most trusted aides, previously served as White House communications director and rejoined the administration this year ahead of the election. Her positive test was first reported by Bloomberg News. She did not respond to a request for comment.
Multiple White House staffers have tested positive for the virus, including Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, and one of the president’s personal valets.
After earlier positive cases close to the president, the White House instituted a daily testing regimen for the president’s senior aides. Others who will be in close proximity to the president and vice president, including reporters, are also tested every day.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who have been in close contact with someone with Covid-19 quarantine for 14 days, White House staffers are considered essential workers. CDC’s guidelines for exposed essential workers allows them to return to work if they take precautions, including taking their temperature before going into work, wearing a mask at all times and practicing social distancing.