LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 20: Fox News Channel and radio talk show host Sean Hannity (L) interviews U.S. President Donald Trump before a campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center on September 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
President Donald Trump did not disclose that he had already tested positive for COVID-19 and was awaiting a second test when he was interviewed by Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday, according to a new report.
Trump received a positive result from a rapid test on Thursday evening before his Fox News interview, The Wall Street Journal reported. The president mentioned that his top aide, Hope Hicks, had tested positive for COVID-19 — but not that he was awaiting the results of a second test to confirm the preliminary result.
“I’ll get my test back either tonight or tomorrow morning,” Trump told Hannity hours before confirming on Twitter that he and first lady Melania Trump had both tested positive for the disease.
Trump appears to have attempted to keep Hicks and other aides’ positive results under wraps, as well.
“Don’t tell anyone,” Trump told an adviser after their own positive test, according to the report.
Campaign manager Bill Stepien, who worked closely with Trump and Hicks on debate preparations, was not informed of Hicks’ positive test until Bloomberg News reported it on Thursday. The Trump campaign announced Stepien tested positive on Friday.
Trump traveled to a fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club despite the White House learning he had been exposed earlier in the day. More than 200 people may have been exposed at the event, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.
“Holding the event in spite of knowing that one of the team was infected and had exposed others was a recipe for spreading disease,” Lisa Lee, an infectious disease expert at Virginia Tech University, told The Journal.
The lack of disclosure has alarmed White House aides as the virus continues to impact advisers, senators, reporters and attendees of Trump’s Supreme Court announcement last month.
“I’m glued to Twitter and TV, because I have no official communication from anyone in the West Wing,” one administration official told The Journal.
Trump has continued to try to keep his condition concealed from the public. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley told reporters on Saturday that the president was recovering well at Walter Reed Medical Center moments before White House chief of staff Mark Meadows privately contradicted his statement to reporters.
“The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” Meadows said Saturday. “We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
The disclosure “outraged” the president, CNN reported.
“Who the f— said that?” Trump complained, according to The Journal.
Conley admitted on Sunday that he had falsely told reporters that the president had not received supplemental oxygen on Saturday. He went on to predict that Trump could be discharged from the hospital as early as Monday despite announcing that doctors had begun treating him with the steroid dexamethasone. The steroid, which is typically reserved for patients with severe illness, has not been shown to benefit those with mild symptoms, according to The New York Times. Doctors say the drug may “harm some patients,” and it has been linked to mania and psychosis.
The White House’s efforts at contact tracing, which is key to reducing the virus spread, has also been anemic.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a press conference on Thursday, apparently unaware of Hicks’ positive test. At least three White House reporters have tested positive.
Former Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., who worked on Trump’s debate prep before testing positive, did not learn of the initial White House positive tests until he heard about it on the news, The Journal reported. He has since checked himself into a hospital.
Former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, who was also on the debate prep team, announced she had also tested positive.
Christie and Conway were also both present at Trump’s announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, where cramped attendees sat maskless in the Rose Garden of the White House. Some also attended indoor receptions.
The lack of disclosure, particularly from Trump’s medical team, has alarmed doctors.
“I’d have to say that they’re hiding things,” CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on Sunday, adding that Conley was “clearly . . . being told what to say, and what not to say and how to present things.”