Hope Hicks, one of Donald Trump’s closest advisers, has tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the president to announce he and the first lady would quarantine as they awaited their own test results.
Hicks, who serves as counselor to the president and accompanied him to the presidential debate on Tuesday and to a Minnesota rally on Wednesday, tested positive on Thursday. Trump confirmed that Hicks had contracted the virus in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity. “She tested positive,” Trump said, adding that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, had taken coronavirus diagnostic tests. “I just went for a test and we’ll see what happens,” he told Hannity.
“I spend a lot of time with Hope,” he added.
Later on Twitter, Trump announced he and the first lady, Melania Trump, would begin quarantining as they awaited their results.
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
Judd Deere, the White House spokesman, told the Guardian: “The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.
“White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is traveling,” Deere added.
Hicks is the closest aide to Trump to test positive so far. She has traveled with the president multiple times this week, including aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, for a Minnesota rally Wednesday, and aboard Air Force One to Tuesday night’s first presidential debate.
Hicks isn’t the only White House staffer to have been contracted the virus. Katie Miller, press secretary to the vice-president, who is married to Trump’s adviser Stephen Miller, has recovered from Covid-19. One of Trump’s personal valets also tested positive for coronavirus, in May.
The president is regularly tested for the virus, as are those who work in the White House and those who meet with Trump, including the members of the White House press corps.
But Trump routinely eschews face masks to protect against the spread of Covid-19 and has recently been holding large rallies crowded with unmasked supporters. Although most of the large events have been outdoors, where the virus is less likely to be transmitted, he has also hosted indoor events in Arizona and Nevada. A public health official in Tulsa has linked a Trump rally there with an increase in Covid-19 cases.
The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million people nationwide.
Hicks 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. Other news outlets, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, also confirmed the news on Thursday evening.
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.
Agencies contributed reporting