Donald Trump’s top spokesperson, Kayleigh McEnany, announced she had tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, in yet another escalation of a rampaging outbreak that hospitalized the president and threw the White House into disarray – even as Trump announced he was leaving hospital.
Related: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tests positive for coronavirus – live
With the pandemic surging, the economy foundering and the election fast approaching, operations at the White House appeared to grind to a halt, with senior staff complaining anonymously to reporters they had been kept in the dark about the president’s condition and given no instruction about how to stay safe as more than a dozen colleagues and recent visitors announced they had Covid-19.
The state of Trump’s health was muddled by mixed messages from his doctors and top aides – and by erratic moves by Trump himself, who left the hospital for a brief car ride on Sunday night and on Monday morning cut loose a string of all-caps campaign-related tweets.
However, early Monday afternoon, just as a fresh medical briefing on the president was awaited and amid growing speculation, Trump tweeted that he would leave the hospital that evening, at 6.30pm.
He simultaneously downplayed once again the seriousness of the disease, having received himself the best care available anywhere, by saying : “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”
Trump was admitted Friday evening and had reportedly demanded to be released on Sunday, but was assuaged with the controversial ride in an armored SUV to greet supporters outside the hospital.
Citing an anonymous source, Vanity Fair magazine reported on Monday that Donald Trump Jr was worried by his father’s behavior and had sought help from his siblings in “staging an intervention”.
Depending on when he contracted the virus, it seemed Trump had not yet emerged from the window when he is likely to be infectious. It was unclear how his return to the White House could impact the escalating health crisis there.
No internal communications detailing precautions staff should take had been issued, a senior White House official told Axios. It’s “ridiculous,” the official said. “A bunch of us are talking about it and just gonna make the calls on our own.”
Video: Kayleigh McEnany tests positive for COVID-19 (Reuters)
Democrats condemned the White House’s handling of the outbreak – and