(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump interacted or traveled with a large coterie of top aides and advisers in the days before he was diagnosed with Covid-19, raising the risk of a widespread outbreak within the White House.
The circle of close contacts with the infected president and his wife, Melania, begins with his adviser Hope Hicks, who fell ill on Wednesday night. She traveled with Trump to the presidential debate on Tuesday and to campaign stops in Minnesota on Wednesday.
She was seen in close quarters with several other officials, including White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller.
Depending on how far the virus spreads through the halls of the West Wing and Congress, as well as the president’s campaign headquarters, much more than Trump’s travel schedule may be derailed. Face-to-face negotiations over another round of economic stimulus may be complicated, and the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett could be delayed.
It wasn’t immediately clear when or how the president was infected and how many other White House aides will be asked to quarantine due to contact with the Trumps or Hicks. The typical incubation period for the virus, or time between exposure and emergence of symptoms, is thought to be two to five days.
It is possible, if not likely, the president was infected before Wednesday, when Hicks started exhibiting signs of illness.
Ronny Jackson, the president’s former White House physician, told Fox News early Friday morning that the positive test would “affect everybody who has been around the president” as they would likely need to self-isolate. He cautioned that it’s not yet clear how widely the virus has circulated. Even though Hicks tested positive, “that doesn’t mean that’s the person he got it from,” Jackson told Fox.
“Contract tracing is being done and the appropriate notifications and recommendations will be made,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
Early Wednesday, Trump met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to discuss negotiations over a virus relief package, according to Mnuchin.
Later that day, Trump set off for Minnesota for a fundraiser and rally. Hicks was aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, when it departed the White House for Joint Base Andrews, where Air Force One lands.
Joining her on the helicopter, along with Trump, were the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kusner; social media director Dan Scavino; the president’s body man, Nick Luna; and adviser Stephen Miller.
Meadows and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany joined the president’s entourage on Air Force One. Meadows was seen chatting with Kushner on the tarmac in Minneapolis, and during the return flight, the chief of staff came back to the press cabin to speak with reporters.
On Tuesday, Meadows attended a meeting on Capitol Hill with Barrett