Hicks, according to the news report, had traveled on Air Force One with Trump to and from his debate on Tuesday. Bloomberg News — citing unnamed sources — initially reported that Trump had not contracted coronavirus. However, at nearly 1 a.m. Eastern time on October 2, the president tweeted that he and the first lady had in fact tested positive for coronavirus.
Multiple White House cabinet and staff members have tested positive for the disease since the pandemic began, including Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser; Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff; a White House cafeteria worker and Trump’s personal valet, the New York Post reported.
Hicks Was With Trump as Recently as Wednesday, September 30
Hicks had traveled with Trump to Tuesday’s debate. At the debate, Trump’s family members and other supporters were seen not wearing masks, despite rules from the Cleveland Clinic facility requiring that all debate attendees (except for the moderator and candidates) do so. Hicks also accompanied Trump to a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday, September 30.
According to The Times, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement:
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 C.D.C. guidance and best practices for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the president is traveling.
Trump Bragged During the Debate That His Rallies Had ‘No Negative Effect’
The news of Hicks’ positive coronavirus test came after Trump said multiple times during the first 2020 presidential debate that his rallies haven’t been shown to spread coronavirus, despite featuring thousands of people crammed together and few wearing masks, as Minnesota Public Radio reported.
Chris Wallace, the moderator of Tuesday’s debate, asked Trump twice if he was worried about spreading the disease at his rallies. Trump responded, saying, “Well, so far we have had no problem whatsoever. It’s outside. That’s a big difference according to the experts. We do them outside, we have tremendous crowds, as you see, and literally on 24 hours notice. And Joe does the circles and has three people someplace.” He then went on to repeat that there had been no negative effect twice.
However, some on Twitter pointed out that former presidential candidate Herman Cain died in July of coronavirus after attending a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was seen in photographs not wearing a mask; defenders of Trump have said it is impossible to know where Cain contracted the disease that killed him.
Others, including Rolling Stone, the USA Today editorial board and journalist Bill Moyers have referred to Trump rallies as “superspreader events.” In his op-ed, Moyers wrote that Trump’s rallies were failing at two important defenses against the disease:
Trump is now holding super-spreader campaign rallies that ignore social distancing and face masks — the nation’s most formidable weapons in fighting the virus. To Trump, those public health measures are a nuisance because they remind people that the pandemic is still ravaging the country. To the coronavirus, Trump’s rallies are gifts that keeps on giving.
Trump mocked Biden during the debate, saying, “I don’t wear a mask like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
When asked if he questioned the efficacy of masks, Trump said, “I think masks are okay. You have to understand, if you look- I mean, I have a mask right here. I put a mask on when I think I need it. Tonight, as an example, everybody’s had a test and you’ve had social distancing and all of the things that you have to, but I wear masks when needed.”
However, he noted that — as an entourage — he and Hicks were often bombarded with people wanting to “hug” and “kiss” them.
The CDC has said that “everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain” and advises putting “6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.”