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Tracing the path of COVID-19 to — and from — President Trump

President Trump wearing a mask and flashing a thumbs-up
President Trump leaves the White House on Friday for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be treated for COVID-19. It is not known how he contracted the coronavirus.
(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
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When President Trump announced early Friday morning that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House quickly became ground zero for the most high-profile contact-tracing effort of the pandemic.

The president and First Lady Melania Trump were tested after learning that Hope Hicks, an advisor in Trump’s inner circle, had contracted the virus. Officials have not yet explained how Hicks may have become infected, and it is unclear whether she passed it on to the president — or if perhaps the reverse might be true. But a chain was forming.

Now dozens of high-profile people who had recently met with the president at fundraisers, press events, on the debate stage and even aboard Air Force One are either getting tested or are releasing results they’ve already received. Positive tests have been announced for the following:

  • President Trump
  • First Lady Melania Trump
  • Sen. Mike Lee of Utah
  • Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
  • Hope Hicks, advisor to the president
  • Kellyanne Conway, former advisor to the president
  • Chris Christie, advisor to the president
  • Bill Stepien, Trump campaign manager
  • Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee
  • John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame
  • Nick Luna, a Trump aide
  • Kayleigh McEnany, press secretary
  • Stephen Miller, advisor to the president

The outbreak is believed to have happened over the last week as the president and his entourage made a series of trips to promote his reelection campaign.

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In recent days, Trump has visited Harrisburg, PA, Cleveland, OH,  Minneapolis and Duluth, MN, and Bedminster, NJ.
(AP, Times Reporting)

Results of tests for Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and other leaders have come back negative.

For now.

Dr. Otto Yang, an infectious-disease specialist at UCLA, said it takes roughly five to seven days for a coronavirus infection to trigger a positive test result. If Biden contracted the virus during Tuesday night’s debate, for example, he might not receive a positive test result until Sunday or Monday.

Indeed, the full extent of the White House outbreak, including how many people the president himself may have infected, will not be known for at least a month, if not longer, said Ira Longini, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Florida.

“We can’t point the finger at this point,” he said. “It is going to take time.”

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In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the key events on the president’s calendar that indicate where he could have caught the virus — or spread it to others.

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Saturday, Sept. 26

SUPREME COURT NOMINATION

In a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump announced that Judge Amy Coney Barrett was his nominee for the open seat on the Supreme Court. The event was outdoors, but few people were practicing social distancing.

More than 100 people were present, mingling and hugging, video footage shows. They sat in tightly packed rows of chairs on the lawn. More than a dozen members of the media were huddled on one side; at least one of them would later test positive.

A large crowd is assembled in the Rose Garden to hear Judge Amy Coney Barrett
A large crowd is assembled in the Rose Garden as President Trump introduces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday. Few masks are visible, and attendees are not practicing social distancing.
(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

Barrett, her husband, and their children stood close to Trump and the first lady at the podium; none wore masks. The family also joined the first couple inside the Oval Office for a conversation and photo op, alongside several senior advisors. Among the 13, no masks were visible.

  • Melania Trump: Tested positive Oct. 1
  • Sen. Mike Lee: Tested positive Oct. 1
  • John Jenkins: Tested positive Oct. 2
  • Judge Amy Coney Barrett: Tested negative
  • Chris Christie: Tested positive Oct. 3
  • Atty. Gen. William Barr: Tested negative
  • Sen. Thom Tillis: Tested positive Oct. 2
  • Kellyanne Conway: Tested positive Oct. 2
  • Second Lady Karen Pence: Tested negative
  • Sen. Josh Hawley: No test result announced
  • Sen. Ben Sasse: Tested negative
  • Sen. Kelly Loeffler: Tested negative

CAMPAIGN RALLY IN MIDDLETOWN, PA.

President Trump flew aboard Air Force One with members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation to Middletown, Pa. None wore masks when they disembarked at Harrisburg International Airport and greeted supporters.

President Trump disembarking Air Force One
President Trump is joined by members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation after disembarking Air Force One on Saturday at Harrisburg International Airport.
(Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

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More than 2,000 people packed into stands for an outdoor campaign rally, and few wore masks as the president spoke for more than an hour. Pennsylvania’s Department of Health on Friday encouraged people who were at the Middletown rally to download the agency’s contact-tracing smartphone app.

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Sunday, Sept. 27

NEWS CONFERENCE

Members of the press corps wore masks in the White House briefing room, but the president didn’t. Nor did former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was seated at the front of the room.

President Trump speaks at a news in the White House briefing room on Sept. 27.
President Trump speaks Sunday in the White House briefing room. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie can be seen seated at the front of the room at left.
(Official White House photo by Tia Dufour)

  • Chris Christie: Tested positive Oct. 3
  • Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany: Tested positive Oct. 5
  • Rudolph W. Giuliani: Tested negative

GOLD STAR FAMILIES AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Relatives of servicemen and women who were killed in the line of duty attended a reception in the East Room of the White House. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, were among the dignitaries seated in the front row.

Many attendees sat close together in chairs, and few wore masks. Experts say indoor events are at least 20 times more risky than outdoor gatherings.

President Trump speaks to gold star families Sunday in the East Room of the White House.
President Trump speaks to gold star families Sunday in the East Room of the White House. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, are in the front row.
(Official White House Photo by Delana Scott)

  • Melania Trump: Tested positive
  • Vice President Mike Pence: Tested negative
  • Karen Pence: Tested negative
  • Gen. Mark A. Milley: No test result announced
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Monday, Sept. 28

TRUCK INSPECTION

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Trump and two members of Congress met with representatives of Lordstown Motors Corp. to check out an electric vehicle made by the company. The plug-in truck was on display on the South Lawn of the White House.

Lordstown Chief Executive Steve Burns stood close to Trump, with two employees and several officials nearby. None of the six wore masks.

President Trump stands next to an electric truck with employees of Lordstown Motors in yellow vests and hard hats
From left, Lordstown Motors employees Rich Schmidt and Michael Fabian, President Trump and Lordstown Chief Executive Steve Burns.
(Shealah Craighead / White House)

  • Peter Navarro, the president’s trade advisor: No test result announced
  • Rep. Michael R. Turner: No test result announced
  • Sen. Rob Portman: No test result announced
  • Steve Burns, CEO of Lordstown Motors: No test result announced
  • Rich Schmidt, Lordstown Motors employee: No test result announced
  • Michael Fabian, Lordstown Motors employee: No test result announced

CORONAVIRUS TEST KIT ANNOUNCEMENT

Trump returned to the Rose Garden to announce that his administration will send millions of coronavirus test kits to state health officials. Attendees were seated a small distance away from each other, and many — including Vice President Mike Pence, Medicare Administrator Seema Verma, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and presidential advisor Dr. Scott Atlas — did not wear masks.

President Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence provides an update on the nation’s coronavirus testing strategy.
President Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence provides an update on the nation’s coronavirus testing strategy.
(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

  • Vice President Mike Pence: Tested negative
  • Medicare Administrator Seema Verma: No test results announced
  • Health Secretary Alex Azar: Tested negative
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: Tested negative
  • Dr. Scott Atlas: No test result announced
  • Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the federal health official overseeing testing: No test result announced
  • Robert Ford, chief executive of Abbott Laboratories: Tested negative
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Tuesday, Sept. 29

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Trump traveled to Cleveland for the first of three planned debates against Biden. The 90-minute debate was held in an atrium at Case Western Reserve University.

Just a few dozen people were in the audience, including members of the candidates’ families, representatives from their campaigns, some health and security officials and journalists. By prearranged agreement, the candidates did not shake hands and stayed behind their lecterns, which were spaced more than six feet apart.

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Attendees sat in socially distanced wooden chairs and were told to wear masks, although several members of the audience — including all of Trump’s adult children — ignored the requirement.

Everyone at the event was tested for the coronavirus, and only those with negative results were allowed in.

Members of the Trump family attend the presidential debate
From top, President Trump’s son Eric, daughter and senior advisor Ivanka, First Lady Melania, daughter Tiffany and son Donald Jr. are seen ahead of the first presidential debate Tuesday at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Only Melania is wearing a mask.
(Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images)

  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden: Tested negative Oct. 2
  • Jill Biden: Tested negative
  • Debate moderator Chris Wallace: No test result announced
  • Hope Hicks: Tested positive Oct. 1
  • Rudolph W. Giuliani: Tested negative
  • Melania Trump: Tested positive and has mild symptoms
  • Eric Trump: Tested negative
  • Ivanka Trump: Tested negative
  • Tiffany Trump: No test result announced
  • Donald Trump Jr.: Tested negative
  • Rep. Jim Jordan: Tested negative
  • Kayleigh McEnany: Tested positive on Oct. 5
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Wednesday, Sept. 30

RALLY IN DULUTH

Trump flew to Duluth, Minn., on Air Force One with Reps. Tom Emmer and Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota. Hagedorn was diagnosed with kidney cancer this year.

While in Duluth, the president met with several lawmakers, including Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.

Trump also attended a private fundraiser at the home of Cambria CEO Marty Davis and an outdoor rally at which he flung baseball caps into the audience.

Hicks was among the White House aides who accompanied Trump. She felt unwell on the return trip and isolated herself aboard Air Force One.

President Trump throws hats to supporters in Duluth
President Trump throws hats to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally Wednesday at Duluth International Airport.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

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  • Rep. Tom Emmer: Tested negative
  • Rep. Jim Hagedorn: Tested negative
  • Minnesota state Rep. Kurt Daudt: No test result announced
  • Minnesota state Sen. Paul Gazelka: No test result announced
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Thursday, Oct. 1

Trump flew to New Jersey on Marine One to attend a fundraiser held indoors at his Bedminster resort. At least 100 donors were estimated to be in attendance. On the same day, the club hosted a golf tournament with more than 180 players.

It is unclear when Trump learned that Hicks had tested positive for the virus, though some reports said it was around the time he departed for New Jersey. He proceeded with his events. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy urged those who attended the event to get tested and “take full precautions.”

That evening, the president told Fox News that he and the first lady would be tested for the virus.

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Friday, Oct. 2

Trump announced on Twitter that he and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus and would begin their isolation immediately, putting an end to his busy travel schedule.

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said he expects that more White House staffers will test positive in the coming days.

Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, who has tested positive, announced that all in-person campaign events involving the president and his family will either take place virtually or be postponed.

On Friday evening, the president arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Marine One.

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He was wearing a mask.

Trump disembarks Marine One
President Trump arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wears a mask in the background.
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)