President Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday that a White House staffer tested positive for coronavirus.
But the unnamed person who contracted the disease “affected” the large, personal gathering with a number of world leaders that took place on the White House’s southern lawn a day earlier, Trump’s spokeswoman assured.
Questions had arisen earlier in the day about another Covid-19 infection in the White House when a journalist reported hearing about “a few positives today.”
At a briefing, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany declined to comment on whether any staff had tested positive, saying, “I do not share people’s personal medical information.”
But Trump spoke at a press conference in the White House briefing Tuesday night and was more willing to discuss what he was told.
“I heard about it this morning on a very small level,” Trump began. But moments later, he said, “Last night I heard about it for the first time, and that’s a small number of cases.”
He then asked McEnany, who was sitting next to the podium, what she could share.
“We do not want to confirm the identities,” she said, “but it did not affect the event and the press was not around” the infected person.
“And no one was near me,” Trump added.
McEnany told Trump that only one person had tested positive for the virus. “It was a person,” Trump repeated, adding, “not a person I was associated with.”
On Tuesday, the White House hosted a ceremony on its southern lawn for the signing of agreements formalizing diplomatic ties between Israel and two Arab Gulf states. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally attended the event with the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
CNN and other outlets noted that the festive gathering seemed to disregard most social distancing measures recommended by public health experts, including many within the Trump administration.
Others who work in the White House have been positive in the past. In May, it was revealed that a personal officer for Trump, who among other things serves the president his meals, had contracted the virus.
That same month, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller also tested positive.