Hours after President Trump announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, some of his own top aides were still appearing in public without protective masks, including most prominently White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, the conservative former North Carolina congressman.
Briefing reporters on Friday morning outside the West Wing, Meadows stood at a lectern without covering his mouth and nose, flouting the guidance of the president’s own coronavirus task force. Masks protect other people from viral particles shed by another person.
“I’ve obviously been tested; we’re hopefully more than 6 feet away,” he explained. “And if there’s any concern there, from a guidance standpoint, we have protocols in place.”
Meadows has been in close contact with the president and other White House staffers, as well as Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. She has reportedly tested negative for the coronavirus.
First lady Melania Trump, top White House aide Hope Hicks, Republican national Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, all have announced that they have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
Also spotted on White House grounds was Dr. Scott Atlas, who in recent weeks has become Trump’s top coronavirus adviser, despite a lack of experience in epidemiology and a record of troubling and inaccurate statements about the coronavirus.
Atlas was also not wearing a mask.
More junior members of the White House staff, however, appear to have concluded that they and their families are not well served by the anti-mask bravado, and there were reports of more widespread mask-wearing in the West Wing in the wake of Trump’s diagnosis.
Trump himself has routinely mocked the practice of wearing masks, including at Tuesday’s debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Biden’s office announced Friday morning that his test was negative.