Less than 24 hours after briefing reporters on President Donald Trump’s condition without wearing a face mask, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced Monday that she has tested positive for Covid-19, the 12th member of Trump’s inner circle to contract the virus in recent days.
In a statement, McEnany—who has repeatedly refused to wear a mask during her frequent press briefings—claimed she had no knowledge that Trump aide Hope Hicks had tested positive for coronavirus when she briefed reporters Thursday without any form of face covering.
“After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms,” said McEnany. “No reporters, producers, or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit. As an essential worker, I have worked diligently to provide needed information to the American people at this time. With my recent positive test, I will begin the quarantine process and will continue working on behalf of the American people remotely.”
Here’s Kayleigh McEnany speaking with reporters maskless yesterday. She’s now tested positive for COVID. pic.twitter.com/q6fUOongqT— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) October 5, 2020
Following McEnany’s announcement of her diagnosis, reporters who cover the White House made note of the press secretary’s persistent refusal to wear a mask in briefings with reporters wearings face coverings to protect themselves and others.
“Kayleigh McEnany has repeatedly spoken to reporters without a mask on,” tweeted New York magazine’s Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi. “She has recklessly endangered lives.”
As CNN reported, McEnany “last briefed reporters in the briefing room on Thursday morning, hours before news of the President’s diagnosis. On Friday, she appeared on Fox News and removed her mask to speak with reporters on the White House driveway. She spoke with reporters again on Sunday night, and did not wear a mask.”
Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said that given the timeline of her test results, McEnany was likely infected in the middle of last week.
“Respect science,” Feigl-Ding tweeted. “Beware pride and arrogance before the fall.”