October 4 Trump Covid-19 news

By Ben Westcott, Brett McKeehan, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Fernando Alfonso III, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 1:15 p.m. ET, October 5, 2020
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9:38 p.m. ET, October 4, 2020

At least 7 people who attended Supreme Court announcement have tested positive for Covid-19 

From CNN's Maeve Reston

President Donald Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court at the White House on September 26 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court at the White House on September 26 in Washington, DC. Alex Brandon/AP

Many of President Trump's aides or contacts who have recently tested positive for Covid-19 attended the White House festivities honoring Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on September 26, in the Rose Garden.

At least seven people attending the event, including the President and first lady, have tested positive. University of Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins, former counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway and Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who were seated relatively close to each other, tested positive.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also tested positive and checked himself into the hospital Saturday as a precautionary measure, because he has asthma.

Conway, Christie, Trump's senior adviser Hope Hicks and his campaign manager Bill Stepien — who have all tested positive — were also all involved in debate prep ahead of Trump's Tuesday clash with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

It "seems highly likely this originated at the SCOTUS announcement last week," a senior administration official told CNN's Jake Tapper of the outbreak among GOP officials. "It may have come from the Hill. The next major concern will be securing Capitol Hill and protecting lawmakers," the official added.

Trump did not address anyone else's diagnosis during a video message from Walter Reed Saturday.

As he praised the medical care he had received at Walter Reed, he sought to spin his hospitalization to his advantage by making it sound like his diagnosis had been inevitable, even though he took few precautions to prevent it.

Read more here.

8:37 a.m. ET, October 5, 2020

Walter Reed attending physician slams Trump motorcade photo op: "The irresponsibility is astounding"

From CNN's Kevin Bohn and Josiah Ryan

A non-military attending physician at Walter Reed National Medical Center harshly criticized President Trump’s motorcade photo op as something which could endanger lives of Secret Service agents who accompanied him in his SUV.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential 'drive-by' just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity,” Dr. James Phillips tweeted. 

Phillips has been an attending physician for almost three years at Walter Reed medical center and is also a board certified emergency medicine physician and assistant professor at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

“That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play,” Phillips tweeted. 

The White House released a statement this evening saying that "appropriate precautions" were taken for Trump's motorcade and that the movement "was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”

Speaking with CNN's Wolf Blitzer this evening, Phillips, who has not participated in the care of the President, went on to say it was unlikely the President's motorcade had been approved by medical professionals without outside political influence.

"That's not standard practice by any means and I have a hard time believing that without undo influence, based on their chain of command, that those physicians would have cleared that," he said of the President's motorcade.

"When we take care of patients in the emergency department, or in the thousands of hours I've spent in the inpatient wards and surgery and medicine and ICU, we don't let the patients leave the hospital when they're sick, unless they sign out against medical advice," he added. "...The idea that this would be cleared without any medical indication is absurd."

See his tweets:

Watch Phillips' interview on CNN:

9:31 p.m. ET, October 4, 2020

White House claims "appropriate precautions" were taken in Trump motorcade

From CNN’s Allie Malloy

Asked what protocols were used to protect the safety of others in the hospital, the driver, security and additional people involved in tonight’s drive-by with President Trump outside of Walter Reed medical center, as well as whether the President’s doctors cleared the decision, White House spokesman Judd Deere told the pooler: 

“Appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it, including PPE. The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”

Deere did not answer additional questions, including whether the drive-by happened at the President’s request, whether Trump met with anyone in person today, or why the pool wasn’t notified and called back. 

7:41 p.m. ET, October 4, 2020

Joe Biden tested negative for Covid-19 today, campaign says

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden departs after speaking at United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 951 on October 2 in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden departs after speaking at United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 951 on October 2 in Grand Rapids, Michigan Andrew Harnik/AP

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tested negative for Covid-19 today, his campaign said.

“Vice President Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected," according to guidance given by the campaign to the pool that follows the candidate. 

No additional details were given. No follow up questions from the pool were answered. 

Some more on this: Biden will be tested more frequently for Covid-19 and intends to move forward with in-person campaigning, following news that President Trump and several individuals in his orbit testing positive, sources told CNN.

The Democratic nominee will receive a test each time he travels, a source familiar with the Democratic nominee's testing said.

His campaign said Saturday that it would disclose the results of every test Biden takes.

8:24 p.m. ET, October 4, 2020

Trump campaign adviser defends President's drive-by photo op: "In a safe way he drove by and said hi"

From CNN's Maeve Reston and Mike Hayes

Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller speaks with CNN on Sunday, October 4.
Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller speaks with CNN on Sunday, October 4. CNN

Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller defended President Trump's decision to leave Walter Reed medical center and take a short drive to wave to his supporters outside the hospital, saying on CNN Newsroom tonight that he was "feeling very good yesterday" and "he's feeling even better today."

Pressed by CNN's Ana Cabrera on whether it was careless for the President to put his Secret Service detail at risk by forcing them to ride in the car with a Covid-19 positive patient, Miller said Trump "in a safe way he drove by and said hi."

"He did that in front of the cameras so the media was able to see it," Miller added.

The campaign adviser claimed the moment was not "a stunt at all."

Here is part of the on air exchange:

"Hundreds of thousands of Americans have battled and they died from the virus, Jason, they have had to do so alone. Families and friends aren't allowed in the hospital, they aren't allowed to go on joy rides, many can't even be treated in the hospital until they are critically ill. So I just wonder how does a stunt like this, that not only puts a spotlight on the inequities and the President's cavalier attitude to this virus but endangers the lives of others, help his campaign?" CNN's Cabrera asked.
"Well, hold on I want to push back a little bit, Ana. I don't think this was a stunt at all. This was President Trump showing people he's very gracious for the hospitality they have shown him, the support that he has, for the hundreds of people outside of Walter Reed medical center there..." Miller said.

Miller also in defending Trump's decision, said the Secret Service takes "great care of their agents" and "always take extra precaution."

"I'm not part of White House operations or the White House medical unit. So the exact logistics I can't speak to, but I know the Secret Service takes this very seriously. I think it was great that President Trump was able to get out there and show he's ready to take this virus head on. You can't stay locked up, whether it be in the attic or in the basement, or whatever. We need to go out and lead," Miller said.

Trump's diagnosis also doesn't seem to have changed his campaign's understanding of the risks their events have posed to their supporters. Miller told CNN the campaign will continue to take temperatures and give out hand sanitizer and masks as supporters enter rallies, but he did not detail any other changes like requiring attendees to wear those masks.

Watch the exchange:

7:12 p.m. ET, October 4, 2020

GOP Sen. Thom Tillis has "significantly improved" after testing positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Phil Mattingly

Sen. Thom Tillis asks a question during a Judiciary Committee hearing on June 16 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Thom Tillis asks a question during a Judiciary Committee hearing on June 16 in Washington, DC. Tom Williams/Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, has “significantly improved” with only lingering symptoms of loss of taste and smell, according to his press secretary Adam Webb.

“Senator Tillis continues to self-isolate at home and is feeling well. His mild symptoms from yesterday have significantly improved and the only lingering symptom is the loss of his sense of taste and smell. Thom and his wife Susan remain grateful for the well wishes they've received from North Carolinians,” Webb said in a statement.

Tillis tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.

7:06 p.m. ET, October 4, 2020

White House press secretary won't give number of West Wing positive cases

From CNN’s Allie Malloy

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks with reporters outside the White House on October 4 in Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks with reporters outside the White House on October 4 in Washington, DC. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

After White House Director of Strategic Communication Alyssa Farah said earlier today that the White House would be releasing numbers of West Wing staffers who have tested positive for coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said they would not, citing privacy concerns. 

She also would not answer when repeatedly pressed whether Trump was tested before the presidential debate or on Wednesday, saying she wouldn't give a "time stamped" readout of his testing schedule.

McEnany only said that he first tested positive on Thursday after he had returned from Bedminster, New Jersey.

McEnany then abruptly ended the briefing and would not answer questions on the President's motorcade trip outside Walter Reed medical center.


6:38 p.m. ET, October 4, 2020

Pompeo says national security briefing today brought Trump “fully up to speed”

From CNN’s Kylie Atwood

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the national security team which briefed President Trump today made sure that the President, who received the briefing from Walter Reed medical center because he is sick with Covid-19, was up to speed on a wide range of national security issues.

“We made sure the that President is fully up to speed on all the things happening around the world,” Pompeo told the traveling press before he boarded his flight to Japan on Sunday evening.

“I’ve been working for this President for almost four years,” Pompeo said. “This is a team that is mature and capable. We are fully prepared for all of the possibilities that may take place.”

When Pompeo said the Trump national security team is prepared for all possibilities, it is unclear if he was referencing possibilities related to Trump’s health or possibilities related to national security issues.

Pompeo would also not say which precise national security issue was discussed, but said he got some guidance for his trip to Japan to meet with Australian, Japanese and Indian leaders.

Pompeo described Trump as being in a “great mood” on the phone today.

“He was direct and candid with me as he always is,” Pompeo said.

Some more context: Pompeo’s trip to Asia – which is now only a trip to Japan – was cut short after the news broke that Trump had tested positive for Covid-19, as Pompeo was initially supposed to also visit South Korea and Mongolia. 

Pompeo said he has talked to about half a dozen world leaders over the last few days who have said that they hope Trump will get well and “get well and get healthy.”

CNN reported earlier in the day, however, that the State Department was told that the White House is taking the lead on calls with foreign leaders about Trump’s health, and it is unclear who at the White House is making those calls.

8:19 p.m. ET, October 4, 2020

White House Correspondents Association denounces Trump motorcade photo-op without protective pool

From CNN's Allie Malloy

The president of the White House Correspondents Association, Zeke Miller, denounced President Trump in a statement for his boarding his motorcade for a photo op around the Walter Reed National Medical Hospital without the protective travel pool which is supposed to accompany the President whenever he is out of the White House.

Read the statement:

“It is outrageous for the president to have left the hospital — even briefly — amid a health crisis without a protective pool present to ensure that the American people know where their president is and how he is doing. Now more than ever, the American public deserves independent coverage of the president so they can be reliably informed about his health.”

Some context: The White House press pool was not notified about Trump’s movement outside of Walter Reed medical center, according to the latest pool report.

There was a travel photo lid issued by the White House earlier today, indicating the President would not be seen in public.

It is highly irregular for the press pool not to accompany the President during a movement. 

Watch CNN coverage here: