President Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday that a White House staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.
But the unnamed person who contracted the disease did not “influence” the large in-person gathering with a number of world leaders that took place the day before on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump’s spokesperson assured.
Questions arose during the day about another Covid-19 infection in the White House when a reporter reported hearing about “a couple of positives today.”
In a briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany declined to comment on whether any staff members tested positive, saying, “I don’t share people’s personal medical information.”
But Trump, speaking at a press conference in the White House meeting room on Tuesday night, was more open to discussing what he was told.
“I heard about it this morning at a very small level,” Trump began. But moments later, he said, “I heard about it for the first time last night, and it’s a small number of cases.”
He then asked McEnany, who was sitting next to the podium, what he could share.
“We have no intention of confirming identities,” he said, “but it did not affect the event and the press was not around” the infected person.
“And it’s no one who was close to me,” added Trump.
McEnany told Trump that only one person had tested positive for the virus. “He was a person,” Trump repeated, adding, “not a person I was associated with.”
On Tuesday, the White House hosted a ceremony on its south lawn to sign agreements formalizing diplomatic relations between Israel and two Gulf Arab states. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with leaders from the UAE and Bahrain, attended the event in person.
CNN and other media outlets noted that the celebratory meeting seemed to ignore most of the social distancing measures recommended by public health experts, including many within the Trump administration.
Others who work in the White House have already tested positive. In May, it was revealed that a Trump personal waiter, who serves meals for the president among other duties, had contracted the virus.
In the same month, Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press officer, tested positive.