Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s closest associates, has tested positive for coronavirus infection, according to people familiar with the matter.
There was no indication that the president had contracted the virus, people said. Hicks traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One to and from the presidential debate on Tuesday.
The people have asked not to be identified because Hicks’ infection has not been publicly announced. Messages left at Hicks were not immediately returned.
Hicks is the latest person in Trump’s orbit to contract the virus, which has infected more than 7.2 million Americans and killed more than 200,000. Other senior executives have contracted Covid-19 and recovered, including National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, but few spend as much time with the president as Hicks, whose service dates back to his 2016 campaign.
Some people close to Hicks learned that she was showing symptoms of the disease.
“The president takes the health and safety of himself and all who work for him and the American people very seriously,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. “White House Operations is working with the President’s physician and the White House military office to ensure that all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidelines and best practices to minimize exposure to Covid-19 , both on the resorts and when the chair is traveling. ”
The development is likely to ignite criticism of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the president’s contempt for public health measures to combat it.
Trump rarely wears a mask and has belittled his re-election challenger Joe Biden for regularly covering his face. The president has resumed holding large electoral rallies during which thousands of his supporters gather side by side, little masked.
Most events take place outdoors at airports, but two recent events in Arizona and Nevada took place indoors, a setting that public health experts say increases the risk of transmission of the virus. .
Hicks went with Trump to his debate with Biden on Tuesday and to a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday. Trump’s entourage entered the debate room without face coverings, or removed them as they sat, and declined an offer of masks from a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, which co-hosted the event.
Biden’s guests wore masks.
Hicks was seen without a mask on Tuesday in a staff van with Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller, campaign adviser Jason Miller and others.
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Upon their return to Washington on Tuesday, Stephen Miller and Hicks were seen sharing an umbrella as they exited Air Force One in the rain. Miller’s wife, Katie Miller – Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary – recovered from Covid-19 earlier this year.
Hicks felt ill in Minnesota on Wednesday and was quarantined aboard Air Force One on the return flight, according to people familiar with the matter. She tested positive for the virus on Thursday.
Trump is tested regularly, although it is not clear exactly how often. People who work in the White House are tested daily, including members of the press, and anyone who is due to meet with the president is tested beforehand.
Trump’s staff wear masks when traveling with him aboard the presidential helicopter, Marine One, and Hicks observed this protocol this week.
But his aides fear that Trump’s lack of sleep during the latter part of the presidential campaign may make him particularly vulnerable to infection. The president did not return to the White House until after midnight after his trips on Tuesday and Wednesday. Trump’s age, 74, also puts him at a higher risk of serious illness from the virus.
(Updates with Hicks quarantined on Air Force One on a flight from Minnesota, in 14th paragraph.)