Top Trump aide Hope Hicks, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 Wednesday, would have been “teeming” with the virus on the day that she traveled with US President Donald Trump this week, CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner said Thursday.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump have now tested positive for the virus.
Reiner said Trump and his staff were in close conditions at a time when those who have tested positive will have been potentially highly infectious.
“If you’re in close quarters with somebody who is teeming with virus, and we think that you’re probably most contagious the day you develop symptoms,” Reiner told CNN’s Don Lemon.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) is when Ms. Hicks apparently developed symptoms. She would be teeming with virus and that’s not the time to be on a small helicopter or in a small conference room on Air Force One with a bunch of people,” Reiner said.
Hicks was seen boarding both Air Force One and the helicopter designated as Marine One with the President as she traveled with administration members this week, including to the presidential debate in Ohio on Tuesday.
“The President has gone out of his way to downplay the risks of this virus, to downplay the benefit of universal masking and now we see what happens when you continue to flirt with disaster, when you pretend that somehow you’re immune,” said Reiner, who worked in the George W. Bush administration as former Vice President Dick Cheney’s cardiologist.
Having access to constant testing, as Trump does, doesn’t prevent infection, Reiner said.
“What they hoped to do was to create, create a sterile cocoon around him by testing just about everybody that comes into contact with him, but it’s really impossible to test everyone every single day with the number of people working in the White House,” Reiner said.
“You only need one broken link to get the virus inside the wire and that’s what’s happened now, and the virus is merciless. The virus is very contagious.”
White House officials knew Hicks tested positive — but Trump still traveled for a fundraiser
As the nation reacts to the news of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump’s coronavirus diagnoses, some are also raising questions about the administration’s handling of the situation after top Trump aide Hope Hicks confirmed that she had tested positive.
A small group of White House officials knew by Thursday morning that Hicks had contracted Covid-19, according to CNN Correspondent Kaitlan Collins — but Trump still took a trip to New Jersey for a fundraiser, and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany still held a news briefing at the White House on Thursday.
McEnany didn’t wear a mask at the briefing, and made no mention of Hicks’ diagnosis to reporters in the room, Collins said.
“So the question is going to be for the White House, why did the President still go to New Jersey, knowing that he could potentially put these people at risk, these donors and fund raisers? And of course, why did the press secretary still hold a briefing despite knowing she had come into contact with somebody who had just tested positive for coronavirus?” Collins said.
“She didn’t even tell us. Didn’t even tell reporters who were on the plane. And there are going to be serious questions about the White House keeping that information not just from the reporters in the room but also from the American people about the state of the health of the President and the people that he potentially came into contact with.”