A military aide who has close contact with Trump is the latest to test positive for the virus. But it's the media — not the White House — uncovering the scale of the outbreak.
Several military staffers who were in close contact with Donald Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to multiple media reports, bringing the number of people to come down with the deadly virus who either work at the White House, attended an event there, or came in contact with someone who works with Trump to 23, according to a tally from the American Independent Foundation.
Yet of those 23 cases, just three were announced by the White House — which appears to be trying to cover up the depth and breadth of the outbreak. Trump announced in the wee hours of Friday morning that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive, while White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced this week in an official White House release that she tested positive as well.
The rest of the reports came either from the media or directly from those who had themselves been infected, as the White House has refused to release a list of the people who have tested positive — or even allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contact trace those who may have been exposed at White House events.
It's unclear how much we would've known about the outbreak at all had Bloomberg News' Jennifer Jacobs not reported White House aide Hope Hicks' positive coronavirus test last Thursday.
The White House initially kept Hicks' diagnosis quiet, even though she had come in contact with multiple high-level administration and campaign officials — including Trump himself — raising the possibility that the public may never have known the extent of the outbreak if Bloomberg had not run the story.
What's more, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the White House did not immediately release Trump's first positive coronavirus test, which came before he appeared on Fox News to discuss Hicks' diagnosis — raising yet more questions about how much the White House knows about the outbreak and why they are not leveling with the public or even their own staffers about how deep it goes.
Instead, White House aides and other officials — including Democratic nominee Joe Biden's campaign and other Democrats on Capitol Hill who have been at the White House or in contact with administration aides — have learned about most of the diagnoses via the media.
Since news of Trump's diagnosis broke, the media has reported that three journalists who work in the White House have tested positive. The media also reported on positive tests from a military personnel staffer, two White House housekeepers, two press aides who work under McEnany, and Trump's new campaign manager, Bill Stepien.
Former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's daughter, Claudia, broke the news on Friday that Kellyanne had tested positive for the virus. And three U.S. senators and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie each announced that they had tested positive for the virus.
The White House's mismanagement of the coronavirus outbreak has Democratic lawmakers from the Washington, D.C., region up in arms, given that the outbreak threatens their communities.
"We are alarmed and dismayed by the casual disregard for the health of our community, including constituents who work at the White House as staff, agents or officers of the United States Secret Service, journalists of the White House Correspondents Association, and the general public," the representatives wrote in a news release, saying that they are calling on the White House to give the public more information.
"This is no time for publicity stunts that put people at risk, or for playing down the seriousness of this pandemic," the lawmakers said. "The American people will never trust the Administration to keep them safe if the White House cannot protect its own staff."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.