WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said he was in quarantine and awaiting results from a test for COVID-19 after Hope Hicks, one of his closest advisers, tested positive for the disease.
“I just went for a test and we’ll see what happens,” he told a US broadcaster, confirming Hicks had the virus. He later tweeted that he and First Lady Melania Trump, who was also tested, are in quarantine.
Hicks travels regularly with the president on Air Force One and, along with other senior aides, accompanied him to Cleveland for the first presidential debate with Democrat Joe Biden on Tuesday.
She was also with Trump at a campaign event in Minnesota on Wednesday and flew back to the White House with him on the Marine One helicopter after the rally.
More than 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and Trump has been heavily criticised about his response to the pandemic. He and his aides rarely wear masks nor do many of the thousands of supporters who attend his election rallies.
When asked about Hicks, White House spokesman Judd Deere told UD media: “The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.”
Deere said the White House takes care to follow procedures “for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the president is travelling.”
Trump and his aides are tested regularly for the virus, as are some of those who are in the White House frequently, including some reporters.
The White House stopped regular temperature checks for everyone who enters the complex months ago and people who are tested for the virus interact with others who are not.
Vice President Mike Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, tested positive for the virus earlier this year and suffered from symptoms before recovering.
Hicks returned to the White House earlier this year after a stint in the private sector. She was previously the White House communications director and also worked as a spokeswoman for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.