When he says “was infected,” I believe Jake Tapper means they suspect he already had an active infection that day and was contagious to others, not that he got infected at the ceremony. The timeline wouldn’t work in the latter case, as you don’t become contagious until after the virus has had a few days to propagate in your system.
Which raises the question: When did the president get infected?
We’d have a better idea if the White House told us when he received his last negative test. But they’ve refused to share that information even though it’s important for contact-tracing purposes.
2/ NYT reporter @shearm believes he got infected Sept 26 either at the WH (required to go to get a COVID test bc he was traveling with the POTUS) or on Air Force One with POTUS the night of Sat. Sept 26.
Did POTUS test negative that day? WH won’t say.https://t.co/QydiWCfDM5
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 7, 2020
4/ A Coast Guard admiral who attended that Gold Star Family event tested positive the next day.
The White House did not initiate contact with the Gold Star families to let them know of the infection, the Washington Post reports.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 7, 2020
Could the admiral have been infected by Trump on the 27th and then had enough of the virus in his system to test positive the very next day? I think Tapper has the timeline slightly confused: The admiral, Charles Ray, didn’t test positive on Monday, September 28, he tested positive on Monday, October 5 — a few days ago. That’s more consistent with a scenario in which he got infected on September 27th.
Was Trump infected and infectious at the debate with Biden on September 29? Tapper’s timeline suggests that he was. Did Trump know that he was infected at that point? His first positive test allegedly came last Thursday night, two days after the debate. But did he test negative before the debate — or was he not tested at all?
Two officials maintained that Mr. Trump had been tested before the presidential debate, but the White House has yet to affirm that.
White House officials conceded on Tuesday that there had been an impression created that Mr. Trump was getting tested every day, and a reliance on testing as if it were a curative measure as opposed to a diagnostic.
Yet the president himself was not tested every day, according to two people familiar with the practices. A senior administration official would only say on Tuesday that Mr. Trump was tested “regularly.” Mr. Trump himself told reporters in the White House briefing room in July that “I do take probably on average a test every two days, three days.”
I can’t imagine why Trump himself wasn’t being tested every day. People around him typically are asked to submit to one of Abbott’s rapid tests — which don’t work that well on asymptomatics — before meeting with him, but of course he can infect them as easily as they can infect him. How long did he go without a test between the time he first got infected and the time of his first positive test on October 1? How many visitors and aides were face to face with him during that period?
Given how many infected people were in debate prep with Trump around the time of the Barrett announcement (Ronna McDaniel, Bill Stepien, Chris Christie, Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks), at the Barrett ceremony itself (Mike Lee, Thom Tillis, the president of Notre Dame), or in close quarters with him for other business (Kayleigh McEnany, Stephen Miller, various military aides), the likelihood is rising that Trump himself was a key vector of transmission here. That is, he’s not just a spoke in a hub of transmission that has someone else who works at the White House at its center. He might be the center.
Dr Jonathan Reiner: "I think POTUS was infected with coronavirus for at least a week before he was admitted to the hospital…I think he's the superspreader. And I think the reason the WH will not have the CDC do a formal check…is they're concerned patient zero might be POTUS." pic.twitter.com/zQGc6Nqh5U
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 7, 2020
I made that some point a few days ago about the White House’s bizarre refusal to activate the CDC for contact-tracing in this case. The politics of that decision are simply terrible; it reeks of callous disregard for the welfare of the people at the Barrett announcement. They’re getting a completely foreseeable and preventable black eye from the media for it. The only reason to submit to that black eye is if Trump and his aides have concluded that they’d get a much worse black eye from what the CDC might discover by performing contact-tracing. Namely, that a lot more people than we realize have been exposed to the virus due to White House negligence and/or that Trump himself is the likely source of many infections.
Skip ahead to today. Is he at least isolating now, while he’s back in the White House, or is he exposing more people to infection? Hmmmm:
UPDATE: @_WilliamsonBen tweets correcting Kudlow, "While the President wanted to be in the Oval Office yesterday, he was not there—he stayed back in the residence working from there." So why is Kudlow, WH advisor most frequently made avail to TV, saying things that aren't true?
— Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCBS) October 7, 2020
Mark Meadows said this morning that Trump *wants* to return to the Oval Office but is being isolated now, and that precautions are being taken in the Oval to make things safe(r) for staff interacting with him, such as “gowns, gloves, mask, eye protection” — which sounds like a lot of trouble relative to just having him remain in the residence. (“He’s the president, we can’t run away from him if he approaches,” said one senior official to the Daily Beast. “But the circle of people who feel comfortable telling him if he’s being inconsiderate is very small.”) Is it true that he hasn’t been to his office yet or did Kudlow inadvertently tell the truth in claiming that Trump had already been there and now they’re scrambling to cover it up?
Relatedly, is the information below also true or also a cover-up? Why not bring the CDC in to confirm that the Barrett ceremony wasn’t a superspreader event? That’d be good PR for the White House, relatively speaking, and the CDC has much more credibility on COVID matters than Trump’s political operation does:
.@PeterAlexander: "Meadows said at this point, & they've finished their contact tracing, we're told by WH officials, they've not identified that Rose Garden event as the source of these infections. They said they have indications it may have happened elsewhere." #AMRstaff
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) October 7, 2020
Either way, Democrats are going to do everything they can to keep public attention focused on the White House’s negligence in containing the spread. Although it remains unclear when Trump last tested negative, we know that Hope Hicks tested positive last Thursday morning, that that fact was known to senior staff, and that Trump followed through on his planned fundraiser in New Jersey that afternoon anyway instead of isolating as a precaution. New Jersey’s Democratic governor pronounced that “completely unacceptable, completely reckless and uncalled for” and state officials are now investigating to see whether the gathering violated the state’s social-distancing rules. Quote: “Area private schools have sent out ‘urgent’ emails informing students to stay home if their parents attended the fundraiser.” What a fiasco.