It was business as usual for President Donald Trump, following the number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases ballooning in the US over the weekend.
After visiting Nashville to tour tornado damage and the headquarters for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday, where he projected confidence about mitigating the spread of the outbreak, the President took part in his standard social activities for the rest of the weekend without any apparent major concerns about community spread and the growing pandemic.
The President made remarks at a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago Club on Friday night to an audience of roughly 400 people, golfed with old friends and several Major League Baseball players the next day and hosted the Brazilian President for a large dinner featuring several members of Congress and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani. He later stopped by a 51st birthday party for his son Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle.
For a self-described germophobe, Trump has continued to shake hands and interact with people like normal. While a bottle of hand sanitizer has been a staple in his life for decades now, people said they did not notice the President taking any extra precautions, despite being in the age bracket that health officials say should be most concerned about coronavirus.
That wasn’t the case for all of Mar-a-Lago’s membership, which skews older. People who were at the club this weekend said conversations among guests focused intently on coronavirus and preparations to avoid contracting it. One person said there appeared to be extra sanitizer positioned on side tables throughout the club. Other guests said they didn’t expect to return to the facility until the crisis wanes, wary of mingling with large groups.
Trump has continued to downplay the virus privately, though he has taken a different stance publicly after being cautioned by advisers he was minimizing it too much.
The weekend left several people around the President questioning how seriously he’s taking the outbreak. He was briefed several times by Vice President Mike Pence, who he has put in charge of leading the administration’s response and also made an appearance at Mar-a-Lago.
Asked Saturday night if he was worried that coronavirus is getting closer to Washington, and therefore the White House, Trump said, “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not.”
At the White House, staffers have been advised to wash their hands more and use hand sanitizer, but so far there haven’t been mandatory work from home orders. After three years of working for a boss who often chastises people for coughing and sneezing around him, aides know to avoid Trump if they are sick.
Trump’s personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, has lead the effort within the White House to prevent the disease from spreading, including steps to prevent Trump’s exposure. Trump did receive a flu shot earlier this year but that will do little to prevent him from being infected by coronavirus.
On Sunday, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar announced they were self-quarantining after interacting with an individual who tested positive for coronavirus at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Trump, Pence and other administration officials attended the conference, though the American Conservative Union says the attendee did not come into contact with the President or vice president, nor did they attend events in the main hall.
The White House has declined to say whether Trump has since been tested for the coronavirus as a precaution.