White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tests positive for coronavirus

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Two other Trump staff members have also tested positive, officials said, giving added concern to an already tense post-election White House.

Meadows, 61, told people after Tuesday’s election that he contracted Covid, but it was not clear when he first tested positive, the sources said. In the past, he has appeared skeptical of coronavirus mitigation measures and has not often been seen wearing a mask.

He traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One during his last election campaign Sunday and Monday, accompanied the president on a visit to his campaign headquarters on Tuesday and attended an election night at the White House where he came into close contact with members of the president’s family. . He was not seen wearing a mask during any of these engagements.

Later that week, he was intensely involved in shaping the president’s post-election legal strategy and encouraged the president in his false claims that voter fraud could rob him of the presidency.

Meadows was on a conference call with the senior Trump campaign legal team and others on the campaign at the end of this week, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Meadows called while others were in a conference room, the sources said.Bloomberg was the first to report on the test.

The development came as White House officials were already grappling with the growing likelihood that the president would lose the election to Joe Biden. Earlier today, officials described a frenzied atmosphere as the president’s future remained in question. The discovery of the main building assistant testing positive for the coronavirus only added to the consternation.

“As if things weren’t bad enough, now this,” one official said.

Meadows’ positive test comes about a month after Trump’s battle with the disease. Meadows spent three nights at Walter Reed National Medical Center alongside the president as Trump recuperated after experiencing severe symptoms.

At the same time, several other White House staff have themselves tested positive, many of whom attended a Rose Garden ceremony for Trump’s Supreme Court candidate and the team of assistants who helped Trump to prepare for his first presidential debate.

Meadows has been criticized by his colleagues for not communicating better about the scale of the outbreak at the White House. While the White House insisted it was conducting contact tracing amid the surge in cases, many officials said they felt they had been left to fend for themselves on how to proceed.

Meadows urged officials to keep coronavirus cases silent, hoping to prevent widespread contagion from emerging within the executive branch.

But his efforts have mostly failed. Last month, senior aides to Vice President Mike Pence revealed that they too had been infected with coronavirus.

White House officials are now alarmed, given that Meadows rubbed shoulders with other staff when he was potentially contagious, an assistant told CNN.

A White House official who was in Meadows several times this week said they had not been told he had tested positive, although staff members were told “contact tracing had been carried out ”.

Meadows has been a leading skeptic in the White House of the mitigation measures recommended by the coronavirus task force, seeing the panel as largely sidelined.

He admitted on CNN last month that the administration strategy is not to “control” the disease.

White House Chief of Staff: 'We are not going to control the pandemic'

“We are not going to control the pandemic. We’re going to monitor the fact that we’re getting vaccines, therapeutics and other areas of mitigation, ”Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on“ State of the Union ”.

Although few details are known about Meadows’ health, he is at increased risk of more serious symptoms of Covid-19 depending on his age.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people aged 50 to 64 are four times more likely to be hospitalized and 30 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those aged 18 to 29 .

Men are more likely than women to have a serious illness or die from coronavirus, according to the CDC.

Kate Bennett of CNN contributed to this report.

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