At least eight people who have tested positive for coronavirus were in attendance at the Supreme Court nomination ceremony at the White House last weekend. The number of people in President Trump’s circle who tested positive for the virus is growing, following news of the president and first lady’s positive diagnoses early Friday morning.
On Saturday, September 26, Mr. Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. He held an outdoor ceremony at the Rose Garden, which was attended by about 200 people — many of whom were not wearing masks or following social distancing guidelines. There are also photos of some of the attendees inside the White House on Saturday.
President Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House on September 26, 2020. Seven people in attendance have since tested positive for COVID-19. / Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
There is now growing concern that Mr. Trump contracted the virus at the ceremony, which could have possibly been a “super-spreader” event. Photos from the event show that chairs were not socially distanced, with many of the people who have tested positive sitting in close proximity.
So far, at least eight people who attended that ceremony have tested positive for COVID-19: The president, first lady Melania Trump, former top aide Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins, Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and a White House reporter, according to the White House Correspondents’ Association.
Barrett tested positive for the virus over the summer and has since recovered, The Washington Post reports.
Christie, who did not wear a mask to the event, announced his diagnosis on Saturday, tweeting “I will be receiving medical attention today.” Conway, who also did not wear a mask, announced her diagnosis late Friday, calling her symptoms “mild,” including a “light cough.”
Lee, who was seen at the event hugging and kissing attendees without a mask, tweeted Friday that he had “symptoms consistent with longtime allergies” and would spend 10 days in isolation. Tillis, who did wear a mask, tweeted that he experienced no symptoms and will also isolate for 10 days.
Lee appears to have been seated directly behind Vice President Mike Pence and Tillis was seated directly behind U.S. Attorney General William Barr. Both Pence and Barr announced that they tested negative for the virus on Friday.
Chairs at the September 26 nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House were not spaced six feet apart, and many attendees did not wear masks. / Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
GOP Senator Ron Johnson, whose positive COVID-19 diagnosis was announced Saturday morning, did not attend Saturday’s event. He is the third Republican senator to test positive for the virus in two days.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called to delay Barrett’s confirmation hearing following the news, but Senator Lindsey Graham, chair of the Judiciary Committee, said the hearings will remain on schedule. Both Tillis and Lee are members of the Judiciary Committee.
Neither Lee nor Tillis gave a reason why they had chosen 10 days to self-isolate, instead of the recommended 14 days, but it would allow them to attend the hearings.
Mr. Trump was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday less than 24 hours after announcing he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. It’s the most serious health crisis a president has faced since President Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981.
The White House physician said Friday night the president is “doing very well” and has not required supplemental oxygen. He said Mr. Trump started treatment with remdesivir, a drug that has shortened the recovery time for some patients with the virus.
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