A member of the cleaning staff sprays The James Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Picture: Alex Brandon/AP
A member of the cleaning staff sprays The James Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Picture: Alex Brandon/AP

White House residence staff test positive for Covid-19 as Trump plots return to campaign trail

By Bloomberg Time of article published Oct 9, 2020

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By Christopher Anstey

Four White House residential staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus. Congressional Democrats introduced a bill providing for the medical removal of the president’s powers, starting with the next term. President Donald Trump will be “clear to go” on Saturday, when he wants to speak to the American people, the White House said.

The president first unveiled his positive test for the coronavirus early October 2, and credits an antibody treatment from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. for a quick recovery.

He returned to the Oval Office Wednesday after working from the White House residence following his departure from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Four staff members at the White House residence have tested positive for the coronavirus, linked to an outbreak at the building nearly three weeks ago, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Those infected include three members of the housekeeping staff and an assistant to the chief usher, Timothy Harleth, according to the people. None of the infected staff came in direct contact with the president or his relatives, and wore masks in the residence, one of the people said.

Trump regularly asked some staffers who came near him to remove their masks, according to one of the people. He seemed impatient with people wearing masks around him, because he’d been tested, the person said.

A Marine is posted outside the West Wing of the White House, signifying the President is in the Oval Office. Picture: Evan Vucci/AP

Democrats Introduce Presidential Medical Removal Bill

House Democrats unveiled a bill to create a medical commission under the 25th Amendment to the US constitution to adjudicate the possible removal of future presidents due to medical incapacity. They said the bill would not apply to Trump in his current term, even as conservatives are accusing Democrats of trying to undermine the election.

“We do need to do this, certainly in the next Congress,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland said at a press briefing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Covid-19 raises the issue because the president could be on ventilator or incapacitated, he said.

The bill would provide for a congressionally appointed panel that could move to shift power to the vice president. “The commission is entirely bipartisan,” Raskin said, with eight medical members chosen by Republicans and Democrats and another eight former high-level executive branch members also chosen by the two parties, along with a chair.

Under the 25th Amendment, two-thirds majorities would be needed to approve removal of power from the president under a petition from the vice president, if the president insists on maintaining power.

With regard to whether Trump’s judgment is now being impaired by drugs, Pelosi said, “I don’t know.” She also said the legislative proposal “is not about the election at all.” -- Erik Wasson

White House Says Trump ‘Clear to Go’ on Saturday (8:45 a.m.)

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump “will be clear to go” on Saturday, when “he wants to talk to the American people.” There are medical tests underway to ensure he doesn’t transmit the virus when he returns to the campaign trail, she said on Fox News, noting she’d conferred with White House doctor Sean Conley.

It will be “tough” to make a rally happen Saturday, she also said. “He won’t be out there if he can transmit the virus,” she said. “There will be a test in place and rest assured that test will show that it’s not transmissible.”

A flock of starlings fly in a murmuration over the White House residence on October 8, 2020. Picture: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

McDaniel Claims Trump ‘Won’t Be Shedding’ Virus by Next Friday

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel criticized the Commission on Public Debates for unilaterally deciding that the second scheduled presidential debate would need to be held virtually, on the original Oct. 15 date. The Republican side had offered alternative dates, she said. McDaniel, who has also tested positive for Covid-19, said she herself is doing “well.”

“What’s so odd about this is even based on the CDC, the president won’t be shedding live virus by next Friday,” McDaniel said in an interview on Fox Business, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Why are they canceling a live, in-person debate? This is so bad for our country.”

Most Covid-19 patients can stop isolating 10 days after they first showed symptoms, according for the CDC. But not all patients are the same and there is no test that shows when a person who was infectious stop shedding the virus. Trump first tested positive for Covid-19 on Oct. 1.

Trump’s physicians have not said whether the president has tested negative since his diagnosis nor have they revealed the date of his last negative test, which could indicate when he was first exposed.

A general view of the White House residence in Washington. Picture: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Trump Will Get TV Doctor’s Evaluation on Fox Friday

Rather than reveal his medical records to reporters the traditional way in 2016, Trump dictated a letter to his doctor and shared it during a TV appearance with Dr. Oz.

He will now reprise the move on Fox News on Friday.

In his first TV appearance since returning from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the president will undergo a medical evaluation on Tucker Carlson’s show from Dr. Marc Siegel.

Siegel is a medical contributor on Fox. In the past, he has speculated without evidence that Biden is using speed and Adderall before debates, said it’s “almost impossible” for people under 70 to die from Covid-19, and argued that Speaker Nancy Pelosi should “stop pontificating” about Trump’s health.

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