By Stephanie Toone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #local-all (CNT)
When President Donald Trump announced his positive COVID-19 test early Friday, that was not the first time the president received a positive reading for the virus, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Trump did not disclose a positive result from a rapid test for COVID-19 on Thursday while awaiting the findings from a more thorough coronavirus screening, according to people familiar with the matter.
Before making an appearance on Fox News on Thursday evening, the 74-year-old did not mention those results. He did, however, confirm earlier reports that Hope Hicks, one of his top aides, had tested positive for the coronavirus and mentioned the second test he had taken that night for which he was awaiting results.
“I’ll get my test back either tonight or tomorrow morning,” he said during the interview. At 1 a.m. Friday, the president tweeted that he had tested positive.
Under White House protocols, the more reliable test that screens a specimen from deeper in the nasal passage is administered only after a rapid test shows a positive reading. Based on people familiar with the matter, the president’s tests followed that protocol.
As the virus spread among the people closest to him, Trump also asked one adviser not to disclose results of their own positive test. “Don’t tell anyone,” Trump said, according to a person familiar with the conversation.
Hicks had learned about her positive test result that morning, and the information was kept to a tight circle of advisers, according to people familiar with the matter. Hicks’ positive test results were first reported by Bloomberg News later that evening. The White House offered no official statement on Hicks’ positive test.
Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, didn’t know that Hicks had tested positive on Thursday morning until news reports later that evening, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Trump campaign said Friday evening that Stepien had tested positive.
The initial confidentiality within Trump’s inner circle has reportedly increased anxiety within the West Wing. Publicly, the White House has issued evolving and contradictory statements about the president’s health that has some officials worried about their own credibility.
“I’m glued to Twitter and TV because I have no official communication from anyone in the West Wing,” an administration official said.
The White House didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment from The Wall Street Journal. The lack of communication about who was getting the virus has extended to reports on the president’s status as he undergoes treatment.
Many folks have started to take a look at his engagements throughout last week as potential points of infection for those closest to him. Minnesota state Rep. Kurt Daudt said Saturday he was still awaiting test results after greeting Trump at the Minneapolis airport on Wednesday. Daudt and other greeters had been tested before meeting the president and were instructed not to shake hands with him or get close to him, but when the president came down the stairs from the plane, he offered to take photos.
“You’ve been tested, right?” Trump said, according to Daudt.
Several of the greeters posed for photos with the president, with some standing less than a foot away from him, according to photos from the event. None wore a mask. Trump then attended a fundraiser at the home of Marty Davis, owner of a quartz countertop company, according to his campaign schedule.
The president’s health reportedly is improving, according to Trump administration officials and his doctors. Trump began the fourth day of his Walter Reed Medical Center hospitalization on Monday with several tweets, attempting to refocus the nation on his reelection campaign and limit attention to his own diagnosis.