Trump White House election party becomes super-spreader event

At least seven people, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, have since tested positive

Danielle Zoellner
New York
@dani__zoellner
Wednesday 11 November 2020 22:49
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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows attends an election party prior to being diagnosed with coronavirus
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Seven people who attended an election night White House party have reportedly been struck down with coronavirus in what has been described as another super-spreader event.

The gathering was held in the White House East Room and there was little evidence of mask-wearing or social distancing, despite a spate of recent infections among top administration officials.

Longtime GOP strategist and lobbyist Jeff Miller has become the latest to test positive for Covid-19 after attending the event on 3 November, a Bloomberg reporter revealed on Thursday. 

Additionally, Corey Lewandowski, an adviser to Mr Trump who has led election recount efforts, also tested positive for Covid-19. 

Mr Lewandowski was at the White House election party, but he has also travelled to Philadelphia since the event and hosted the infamous Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference with Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s lawyer, on Saturday.

The adviser said he believed he contracted the virus in Philadelphia and not at the White House election party, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported. 

But him contracting the novel virus comes when at least seven people have confirmed infections since the 3 November event. 

Mr Lewandowski and Mr Miller make up the sixth and seventh person confirmed with the virus since the event, after businessman David Bossie; Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson; White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; Brian Jack, the White House political affairs director; and Healy Baumgardner, a former White House aide who now works in private equity.

Three other members of the White House staff have also tested positive for the coronavirus, it was revealed by ABC News and The New York Times on Wednesday. But it was not known if any of these people also attended the White House party.

Mr Trump’s intentions for the gathering at the White House was to celebrate him winning a second term, but the party turned sour as election results indicated it would take days to count all the absentee ballots.

Since then, Joe Biden has been announced as the projected winner of the 2020 election, a projection Mr Trump refuses to recognise – all while the White House battles its second coronavirus outbreak in months.

The first outbreak happened at the end of September when it was revealed Mr Trump’s senior aide Hope Hicks tested positive for the novel virus, results the White House first tried to keep secret from the public.

Her positive test then spiralled with Mr Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, son Barron Trump, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien, former adviser Kellyanne Conway, and other members of the White House staff and press testing positive.

In total, there were at least 36 confirmed cases from the last week of September into the second week of October. Mr Trump, who tested positive on 1 October, was hospitalised at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre for three days due to the novel virus.

These cases were linked to another potential super-spreader event involving Mr Trump announcing the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett at a crowded White House Rose Garden ceremony on 26 September. The event was held outside, but most attendees did not wear masks or practise social distancing. 

Another smaller outbreak occurred among Vice President Mike Pence’s staff two weeks ago. Several aides to the vice president, including his chief of staff, tested positive ahead of the 2020 election, forcing those staff members off the campaign trail. 

Despite all the outbreaks within the White House alone, Mr Trump has not enforced stricter mask wearing or social distancing guidelines on the grounds. 

He and his administration staff continued to hold large gatherings and rallies after the first outbreak, and Mr Pence stayed on the campaign trail despite being in close contact with coronavirus-positive staff members. These decisions have called into question the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic at a time when cases are surging across the United States.

The country reached the grim milestone of 10 million coronavirus cases this week and more than 242,000 people have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

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