Those of us who weren't up at 1 a.m. saw the news this morning that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19. The president is reportedly experiencing "mild symptoms," the Trumps are quarantining, and a hectic contact-tracing effort is under way for anyone in recent contact with the president.
Trump visited Miami a week ago today for a Latinos for Trump roundtable discussion at his Doral golf resort. A crowd of about 150 people gathered to hear the president court Hispanic voters. Photos and video from the event show lackadaisical mask usage and social distancing.
On Twitter this morning, the Miami Herald's Doug Hanks pointed out that Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez personally greeted "a maskless" Trump on the tarmac at Miami International Airport last Friday.
Miami-Dade @MayorGimenez greeted a maskless @realDonaldTrump on the MIA tarmac 7 days ago. Gimenez said this a.m. he’s not concerned. “He stood 8 feet away, outdoors, pretty windy, and I wore a level 3 surgical mask.”— Doug Hanks (@doug_hanks) October 2, 2020
Hanks added that Giménez has told him he isn't worried because the president stood eight feet away and they were outdoors. And although the president was maskless, Giménez told Hanks he was wearing a "level 3 surgical mask."
In response to questions from New Times today about whether Giménez has been or intends to be tested for COVID, a spokeswoman for the mayor says she's working on a statement.
Giménez had a close call in March when he attended an event in Miami with several Brazilian officials who subsequently tested positive for the virus. Giménez tested negative four days after attending the event.
The virus' incubation period is thought to be two to fourteen days, but individuals generally start to feel symptoms within four to five days of exposure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a Twitter thread this morning, Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, estimated that the president was probably infected sometime between Saturday and Monday.
Update published at 2:30 p.m.: Giménez, who is running for Congress with Trump's seal of approval, said in a statement:
"I wish President Trump and the First Lady of the United States a speedy recovery after having tested positive for COVID-19. Having been exposed to the virus myself in March, but tested negative and self-quarantined, I understand the importance of isolation in either case to protect family, friends, work colleagues and our community. May POTUS and FLOTUS and all who are being tested stay well during this difficult time for our nation."
Trump's own stance on masks has been inconsistent since the emergence of the coronavirus. He has downplayed the effectiveness of face coverings and claimed the virus would simply disappear. For months, the president refused to wear a mask during public engagements. Most recently, he said he wears face coverings when necessary but mocked Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden for wearing masks in public.
During a July visit to South Florida for a tour of U.S. Southern Command and a roundtable on Venezuela, Trump violated the county's mask mandate by stepping off Air Force One at Miami International Airport without a face covering. He got away with not wearing a mask at SOUTHCOM and at the church that hosted the roundtable because the county's mask mandate carves out exceptions for mask usage in churches and federal properties.
At the Latinos for Trump event last Friday, the president was photographed taking selfies with maskless supporters while not wearing a face covering himself.
Dr. Terry Adirim, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at Florida Atlantic University's college of medicine, says the risk of infection for individuals who attended the Latinos for Trump event and came in contact with the president in Miami last Friday is low.
"Typically, you walk back 48 hours prior to the development of symptoms or testing positive, if you're asymptomatic," Adirim tells New Times. "That's what we usually think is the period of time when you are infectious or contagious. He was likely infectious Monday through Wednesday. I would be more concerned for the people at the debate."
Trump and Biden squared off in a dumpster fire of a debate on Tuesday. Earlier today, the Bidens' primary-care physician issued a statement confirming that the Democratic nominee and his wife Jill have tested negative for the virus.
Several members of Trump's family who reportedly flouted mandatory mask rules at the debate have tested negative for COVID-19 as well.
Adirim, who was a senior public health official in the U.S. Department of Defense and worked on the federal response to the 2009 H1N1 pendemic, cautions that while the risk of infection from the Miami event is low, it's problematic that Trump has continued to host rallies and large-scale events, where supporters are usually maskless, during the pandemic.
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The president of the University of Notre Dame, who on Saturday attended the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court at the White House and didn't wear a mask, tested positive for COVID-19 today. Given that news, more will need to be done to contact-trace and "determine when Trump and his people were exposed and if anyone on Friday was exposed" during Trump's Miami visit, Adirim says.
The announcement of Trump's positive COVID-19 test came hours after one of his longest-tenured aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the virus. Hicks, the president, and several aides traveled together earlier in the week. The White House reportedly wanted to keep Hicks' positive test result secret.
Trump suggested Hicks might have caught the virus from someone in law enforcement or the military.
"It is very, very hard when you are with people from the military, or from law enforcement, and they come over to you and they want to hug you and kiss you because we really have done a good job for them," the president told Fox News host Sean Hannity. "You get close, and things happen."