White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Tests Positive for COVID-19

White House Chief of Staff says optimistic Trump will be released from hospital later Monday

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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks to members of the media at the White House in Washington, October 4, 2020.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks to members of the media at the White House in Washington, October 4, 2020. Credit: Erin Scott/Reuters

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday she tested positive for COVID-19, adding that she would begin quarantining and that the White House medical unit does not list any members of the press as close contacts.

"Moreover, I definitively had no knowledge of Hope Hicks' diagnosis prior to holding a White House press briefing on Thursday," McEnany said in a statement, referring to President Donald Trump's adviser whose positive test results were revealed last Thursday, hours before Trump announced he and his wife also had contracted the deadly coronavirus.

The diagnosis comes as President Donald Trump began a fourth day of treatment for COVID-19 at a military hospital outside Washington, with the severity of his illness unclear barely four weeks before Americans go to the polls to decide whether to reelect him. 

Trump’s announcement of his diagnosis landed like a bombshell on Friday, some 48 hours after his first presidential debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden, highlighting the uncertainty that has marked a highly unusual campaign during a deadly pandemic.

Doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, are treating Trump, 74, with a steroid, dexmethasone, that is normally used only in the most severe cases. Trump was running a high fever on Friday and had been given supplemental oxygen after his blood oxygen levels dropped, Dr. Sean P. Conley, the White House physician, said on Sunday.

But the Republican president’s medical team, which has painted a rosy picture of his condition, will weigh whether he can leave the hospital later on Monday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News, adding that he was optimistic Trump would be discharged.

Meadows also defended the decision to allow Trump to leave his suite briefly on Sunday to take part in a drive by to greet supporters outside the hospital. Critics said the action put Trump’s security officers at risk.

Even if discharged, Trump will need to continue treatment as he is still undergoing a five-day course of an intravenous antiviral drug, remdesivir. The normal quarantine period for anyone testing positive for the novel coronavirus is 14 days.