They’re both favorites of his. One is Doug Collins, a top Trump advocate during the impeachment saga and the president’s preferred candidate for the Senate vacancy that eventually went to Kelly Loeffler in Georgia. The other is Matt Gaetz, another tireless Trump cheerleader in the House who had a brief falling out with POTUS over war powers but was sufficiently back in his good graces to have attended a party at Mar-a-Lago this weekend and hitched a ride back to D.C. from Florida on Air Force One today…
…after having had contact with the coronavirus patient who was at CPAC.
Here’s Collins, who was with Trump during his visit to the CDC on Friday, days after CPAC:
This afternoon, I was notified by CPAC that they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for #COVID19.
While I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.
Full statement → pic.twitter.com/74oeaYOBYR
— Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) March 9, 2020
Congressman Gaetz was informed today that he came into contact with a CPAC attendee 11 days ago who tested positive for COVID-19.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 9, 2020
While the Congressman is not experiencing symptoms, he received testing today and expects results soon.
Under doctor's usual precautionary recommendations, he'll remain self-quarantined until the 14-day period expires this week.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 9, 2020
Here he is today in an enclosed space with the president:
Here is Rep. Matt Gaetz exiting the Beast and entering Air Force One in Florida today. pic.twitter.com/BSmVuV3MdZ
— Maegan Vazquez (@maeganvaz) March 9, 2020
Reportedly he found out *during the flight* that he’d been in contact with CPAC Patient Zero and moved to a different part of the plane from Trump to quarantine himself.
This makes at least three people who had direct contact with the CPAC attendee and then had direct contact with Trump during the 14-day incubation period. The third is Matt Schlapp, head of the ACU that hosts CPAC:
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said neither Trump nor Pence was in “close proximity to the attendee,” but ACU chairman Matt Schlapp told The Washington Post on Saturday that he himself interacted with the infected person at the event. The precise chronology could not be learned, but Schlapp did shake Trump’s hand on the stage on the last day of the conference.
“I think we have to be calm and see what occurs here and hope our friend gets better,” Schlapp said.
There may be more than three who met CPAC Patient Zero and then met Trump, in fact. Per the WSJ:
The number of CPAC exposures could reach even further. The man, who is hospitalized in New Jersey, had obtained a special category of ticket that entitled him to meet with top-ranking officials, and even more people have potential exposure, according to a person close to the organizers of CPAC. “We thought that we had a dozen people that had direct contact,” the person said. “It’s clear that we were not given accurate information, and that there are more, so now we are having to take additional measures.”
It’s smart, responsible, and good leadership by example on the part of Collins and Gaetz (and Ted Cruz and Paul Gosar) to isolate instead of taking the idiotic “it’s only a flu!” approach. Just one question: What was Gaetz doing in the presidential limo and on Air Force One today when it was already reported last night that he was potentially at risk because of his contact at CPAC?
Here are some of the other people who may have been in the green room on Thursday afternoon at the same time as the CPAC #coronavirus infectee:
– Rep Louie Gohmert;
– Ronna McDaniel
– Michael Knowles
– Kay James
– KellyAnne Conway
– Betsy Devos
– Rep Matt Gaetz
— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) March 9, 2020
“Gaetz was on the list I provided last night,” said Kassam in a separate tweet this afternoon. “How did I know [about the risk of exposure] before he did? Disaster.” Yesterday he reported that he’d been experiencing flu-like symptoms for the past week. He’s been calling around today to the CDC, D.C. Department of Health, and various medical facilities asking how he can get tested — and can’t get a straight answer.
Speaking of which, have Collins, Cruz, and Gosar all been tested? Gaetz says he has, but it would be … discouraging, to put it mildly, to find that even U.S. senators are having trouble getting a test while they’re waiting in self-quarantine.
As for Trump, Gaetz claims it fell to him to take sensible precautions to protect the president on the flight, against Trump’s own instincts:
Gaetz said: "I refused to go into his office, I stood outside the door. I told him he could talk from that distance. "
— Ben Terris (@bterris) March 9, 2020
The man is 73 years old, a member of the age group that’s at highest risk for serious complications from COVID-19, and he was “coaxing” Gaetz to come talk to him.
Reportedly the White House is being cleaned more frequently to protect him and people showing any symptoms are being asked to stay away from the building. He’s supposedly “eager” to hold rallies but WaPo notes that there are none scheduled right now for the first time this year. According to Gabriel Sherman’s sources, he’s privately worried about coming down with the disease:
As Trump pushes a nothing-to-see-here message in public, sources said he’s privately terrified about getting the virus. “Donald is a famous germaphobe. He hates it if someone is eating nachos and dips a chip back in after taking a bite. He calls them ‘double dippers,’” a prominent Republican said. Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg recalled Trump’s response to the last major outbreak in 2014. “When I worked for Trump, he was obsessed with Ebola,” Nunberg told me. (One Mar-a-Lago guest disputed this and said Trump was handshaking with gusto this past weekend. “He was acting like the opposite of a germaphobe,” the source said.)
Stories about Trump’s coronavirus fears have spread through the White House. Last week Trump told aides he’s afraid journalists will try to purposefully contract coronavirus to give it to him on Air Force One, a person close to the administration told me. The source also said Trump has asked the Secret Service to set up a screening program and bar anyone who has a cough from the White House grounds. “He’s definitely melting down over this,” the source said.
He isn’t acting or sounding like a germaphobe publicly. If he was, he never would have offered Gaetz a ride today without having someone check first to see if Gaetz had been in contact with the sick CPAC patient.
Stephanie Grisham is demanding a retraction of the claim that Trump think journalists will try to infect him. Meanwhile, says Sherman of Trump’s sanguine view of the threat from the virus, “The problem is that the crisis fits into his preexisting and deeply held worldview—that the media is always searching for a story to bring him down.” It’s weird that the “media” plot to create bad press for Trump somehow also appears to involve the government of Italy, which just locked down 60 million people to slow the spread of the disease. They’re really going all-out to make the disease look frightening:
What is scary is the difference in the fatality rate between Lombardy (around Milan) and the rest of Italy (see picture). Data collection procedure should be the same. I fear difference is due to Lombardy hospitals (considered the best in Italy) running out of available ICU units pic.twitter.com/CGkejbWRb8
— Zingales (@zingales) March 9, 2020
I’ll leave you with this from Gosar, who’s apparently having a truly weird time in self-quarantine.
Been thinking about life and mortality today. I’d rather die gloriously in battle than from a virus. In a way it doesn’t matter. But it kinda does. pic.twitter.com/m6vU5RTQHJ
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) March 9, 2020