Trump on Wednesday confirmed that a White House staffer recently tested positive for the coronavirus, hours after his press secretary declined to tell reporters, arguing that the information is private.
“I heard about it this morning. At a very small level. … Last night I heard about it for the first time. And it’s a small number of cases. Maybe it’s not even cases," Trump told reporters when asked about reports of a positive case among the White House staff.
He then asked White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who said, “It did not affect the event, and press was not around the individual." She added that it was “one person,” to which Trump responded, “It’s not anybody that was near me. … It was one person. Not a person that I was associated with.”
It was not immediately clear to which event McEnany was referring, but one of the activities on Trump’s schedule Tuesday was a signing ceremony of agreements establishing formal ties between Israel and two Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. About 800 people were in attendance at the event, according to the White House. Later that evening, Trump attended a town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia.
At a media briefing earlier Wednesday, McEnany declined to say whether a staffer had tested positive. “I don’t share people’s personal medical information,” she said.
Raquel Krähenbühl, a White House correspondent for Brazil’s TV Globo, tweeted Wednesday morning that the White House was half an hour late in calling the press pool for its routine coronavirus tests. “I was told they were late because ‘It was a very busy morning. We had a couple of positives today,’” Krähenbühl tweeted.
McEnany said Wednesday that she would not discuss the topic because last time, the name of one of the staffers who had tested positive had been “leaked” — even though Miller herself confirmed her diagnosis to NBC News, and Trump appeared to confirm Miller’s identity, telling reporters at the time, “She’s a wonderful young woman, Katie. She tested very good for a long period of time, and all of a sudden today she tested positive."
“I’ve seen the reporting out there, but again, I’m not here to give people’s personal identities,” McEnany said at Wednesday’s briefing. “In the past, when I’ve discussed a case, unfortunately, that individual’s name was leaked to the media.”
McEnany was also asked repeatedly about Trump’s comment during the town hall Tuesday evening that “there are a lot of people that think masks are not good,” a statement that appears to be at odds with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
McEnany replied that Trump meant that “masks are not good when they are not used appropriately.”