The latest on Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:23 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020
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5:44 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Biden campaign will resume negative advertising

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is in the process of resuming contrast and negative spots on TV and digital, a campaign aide confirms to CNN. 

"Our campaign has always been about making the positive case for Joe Biden, but there's a stark contrast between Vice President Biden and Donald Trump and their visions for our country. We're going to continue to make a full throated case for Vice President Biden and we will forcefully correct the record when Trump attacks and lies,” spokesperson Mike Gwin said in a statement. 

The campaign pulled negative advertising following President Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis. 

The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

 

5:37 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Two White House officials concede Trump has not been tested daily for coronavirus

From CNN's Jim Acosta 

President Donald Trump waves from the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House Monday, October 5, in Washington, after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
President Donald Trump waves from the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House Monday, October 5, in Washington, after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Alex Brandon/AP

Two White House officials conceded today that President Trump has not been tested daily for coronavirus. 

One official drew a distinction between the frequency of Trump's testing versus the testing of people around the President. 

The official said Trump is tested "regularly" while people around the President are tested "daily." 

That runs counter to what White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany previously told reporters that Trump was tested sometimes more than once a day. Trump later suggested that was not the case.

A source familiar with tracing at the White House said administration officials are looking at two possible spreaders of the virus, the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett to be Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, and also Trump's debate prep sessions.

4:26 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

It is safe for Pence to participate in the debate, CDC director says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Plexiglass protections between the debaters are seen on the stage of the debate hall ahead of the vice presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall of the University of Utah October 6 in Salt Lake City.
Plexiglass protections between the debaters are seen on the stage of the debate hall ahead of the vice presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall of the University of Utah October 6 in Salt Lake City. Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

It is safe for Vice President Mike Pence to participate in the vice presidential debate tonight, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement released Tuesday.

Redfield said the CDC had a consultation with Dr. Jesse Schonau, currently serving in the White House medical unit, and based on the descriptions, "the Vice President is not a close contact of any known person with Covid-19, including the President."

For Covid-19, the CDC defines a close contact as a person who was within six feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more, starting from two days before illness onset or positive specimen collection, until the patient is isolated.

3:34 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

President Trump is in Oval Office

From CNN's Jim Acosta 

President Trump is back in the Oval Office and is being briefed on stimulus talks and the hurricane, White House deputy communications director Brian Morgenstern told pool reporters.

3:48 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

ER doctor: We should be afraid of coronavirus

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Dr. Amy Cho, an ER doctor from Minneapolis, spoke out about the serious dangers of Covid-19 following President Trump's messages downplaying the impacts of the virus.

"I want people to have a bit of fear about this, because it's important. Fear helps you to be careful, it helps to motivate the actions and behaviors that help to reduce risk, and it will actually help to save lives," Cho told CNN's Brianna Keilar.

In Twitter thread that went viral, Cho emphasized the serious risks coronavirus poses and how even medical professionals are fearful of the pandemic.

Cho tweeted:

"Please know that Covid-19 Please know that COVID-19 scares the doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers.
We are afraid.
Because we have witnessed what it can do if you or your loved ones get severe COVID. We know that money, power and fame can’t purchase a cure"

Watch more:

3:04 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

The White House isn't abiding by policies designed to control the pandemic, infectious disease expert says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

The White House is seen in Washington, DC, on October 7.
The White House is seen in Washington, DC, on October 7. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of the infectious diseases division at Massachusetts General Hospital, says the White House and federal government are not following policies that people in infection control live by, as they try to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Walensky noted that there are standard definitions and guidelines around quarantine, isolation and contact tracing.

“Some of those policies that we all live by in infection control as we’re trying to contain this pandemic have not, at least by appearance, been followed at the White House and in the federal government,” Walensky said during an Infectious Diseases Society of America webinar on Wednesday. 
“Given the intermittent information that we’re getting, it’s very hard to understand a) whether people are being properly quarantined, b) whether people are being properly isolated and c) whether people are being properly contact traced,” she said about cases linked to the White House.

Aside from testing and contact-tracing efforts around well-known figures at the White House, there are other essential workers there who would likely need to be contacted and tested – and that’s a lesson for communities outside the White House, too.

“I really think it’s key that we make sure that all communities have access to contact tracing, treatments and vaccines,” she said. 

2:49 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Attorney General William Barr tests negative for Covid-19, spokeswoman says

From CNN's Evan Perez

Attorney General William Barr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing in the Congressional Auditorium at the US Capitol Visitors Center July 28 in Washington, DC.
Attorney General William Barr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing in the Congressional Auditorium at the US Capitol Visitors Center July 28 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr tested negative for Covid-19 on Wednesday, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec. 

Kupec said Barr, who tested negative for the sixth time, is at the Justice Department for meetings Wednesday afternoon. 

The attorney general was among the guests at Trump's Rose Garden event late last month introducing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the US Supreme Court – an event which is now believed by many White House officials to be a nexus for contagion that led to the positive tests of at least seven attendees, including the President and first lady.

Barr was seen at the event without a mask, shaking hands and mingling with people in the crowd, including former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway who announced she had tested positive Friday. He also attended the private reception for Barrett afterward.

8:23 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Former White House chef to CNN: "There's a big cover up ... and it's putting real lives at risk"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Sam Kass, former White House chef and adviser to first lady Michelle Obama, voiced his anger with the Trump administration’s handling of coronavirus as it relates to the White House residence staff.

In a four-minute Instagram video posted earlier Wednesday, Kass expressed his outrage following reports residence staff have been put in danger. 

“We’re starting to actually learn that there’s been a big cover up in there. There’s been no transparency … and it’s putting real lives at risk,” Kass told CNN in an interview Wednesday afternoon. 

After a report from the New York Times that two housekeeping staffers had tested positive and were asked to use discretion, Kass raised the possibility that other potential close contacts were not informed internally. 

“There were gaps in communication where people had no idea what was going on, and a lack of communication,” he said. 

In his opinion, both President Trump and first lady Melania Trump, who were both diagnosed with Covid-19 last week, should not be at the White House around residence staff “unequipped” to deal with infectious disease, and, rather, in the care of trained medical professionals. 

Kass outlined the potential for cross-contamination – even though the East Wing instituted a mask policy early in the pandemic, the West Wing did not. And residence staff are frequently around West Wing staff, setting up and breaking down events in the East Room and Rose Garden, among others. He said the dueling mask policies showed the administration’s “incompetence and hypocrisy.”

“It means they knew they should be in masks. That’s the policy in their home. They knew people should be testing frequently, if not daily. They let the rest of their staff be exposed without any rules, and how dare they,” he said.

Many of the workspaces used by residence staff are extremely small and have a potential for spread, including the pastry shop, which Kass said is “like a walk-in closet,” and “tiny little offices underground” including the engineers’ room, the carpentry shop, and the electricians’ office.

Kass said he was “horrified” by images of the President walking into the residence from the Truman Balcony without a mask after he returned from the hospital. 

“I just couldn’t imagine being so careless with the lives of these people who are there to serve and take care of you. It was so unrecognizable for everything I know to be true about that place, the spirit, the camaraderie, the care that people take for each other. I just couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said. 

He said he felt compelled to speak out because residence staff, with a long history of discretion, would not speak for themselves. 

“There’s a deep tradition in the residence of being credibly discreet and never speaking out, and I know they’re not going to,” he said. “The privacy of the first family, it’s tantamount. They would never violate that trust, even when their own lives are at risk.”

Watch more:

3:26 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Antibody treatment could have affected Trump's blood test, pharmaceutical company says

From CNN's Amanda Sealy and Maggie Fox

President Donald Trump leaves Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, heading towards Marine One on October 5.
President Donald Trump leaves Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, heading towards Marine One on October 5. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Regeneron, the company that makes the experimental treatment given to President Trump last week, told CNN their antibody treatment could have affected the blood test that shows Trump has antibodies to the coronavirus.

Earlier today the President’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, released a memo on the President’s health. In it, he said Trump had "detectable levels" of coronavirus antibodies as of Monday. 

“Of note today, the President’s labs demonstrated detectable levels of SARS-Cov-2 IgG antibodies from labs drawn Monday, October 5th; initial IgG levels drawn late Thursday were undetectable,” the memo read. 

Trump received a single infusion of Regeneron’s dual monoclonal antibody treatment on Friday. The company said the IgG antibody test would have detected the engineered antibodies that were administered to Trump.

Those antibodies – laboratory versions of immune system proteins designed to home in directly on specific parts of the coronavirus – would remain detectable in his system for several months.

In a statement to CNN, Regeneron said:

"Most of the standard assays for IgG would not distinguish between endogenous (self-made) antibodies and the ones delivered by our therapy. However, given the volume of IgG antibodies delivered in our therapy, and the timing of these tests, it is likely that the second test is detecting REGN-COV2 antibodies. 
Our early data announced last week shows that the patients most likely to benefit from this treatment have a similar profile to President Trump, in that they had undetectable antibodies at baseline (‘seronegative’) and were early in the course of disease. Treatment with REGN-COV2 had the greatest impact in viral load reduction and time to symptom alleviation in this seronegative group. We also know by looking at the placebo groups that these seronegative patients were at a much higher risk of requiring further medical attention than ‘seropositive’ patients when untreated with therapeutic antibodies."