Three Days After Trump’s COVID Diagnosis, White House Tells Staff With Symptoms to Stay Home

The White House has told staff that if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay home. The advice comes a full three days after President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus.

An all-staff email sent on Sunday urges anyone with COVID symptoms to “please stay home” and “do not come to work.” The email also tells any staff with symptoms to “immediately contact your primary care provider” and “inform [your] supervisors.”

The email was obtained by New York Magazine‘s Washington Correspondent Olivia Nuzzi. She took to Twitter to point out that the advice came only after the president was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center with the disease.

“Three days after the public learned about President Trump’s COVID-19 infection and the viruses spread through the White House and federal government, WH staff finally received an email telling them what to do if they have symptoms,” Nuzzi wrote.

The email says, in part: “If you or your colleagues believe that you should be practicing telework, or have questions about your ability to do so, please contact your supervisor.”

Nuzzi also noted confusion and even anger at the White House about the way the administration handled the president’s diagnosis. There has been significant criticism about mixed messaging surrounding his illness.

“[A] senior White House official was angry that staff had been kept in the dark, that nobody had been told what to do about the virus spreading rapidly in their own workplace,” Nuzzi said.

The White House has been unclear on timeline leading up to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. Here’s more details on his travels in the past week.

President Donald Trump announced early Friday that he and first lady, Melania Trump, tested positive for COVID-19.

The world reacts after President Trump and first lady Melania test positive for COVID-19



Since then, the White House has sent mixed signals about his condition and the timeline of events leading up to his diagnosis and transfer to the hospital.

White House physician and Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley said Sunday that President Donald Trump continues to improve in his battle against COVID-19 and could be discharged.

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“There are frequent ups and downs … particularly when a patient is being so closely watched 24 hours a day,” said Conley. “If he continues to look and feel as well as he does today our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House, where he can continue his treatment course.”

Donald Trump in a suit standing in front of a crowd: President Donald Trump throws hats to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport in Duluth, Minn. on Sept. 30, 2020.

© Alex Brandon, AP
President Donald Trump throws hats to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport in Duluth, Minn. on Sept. 30, 2020.

Meanwhile, aides sought to portray an image of business as usual despite lingering uncertainty over the severity of his case.

After an update on Trump’s health at a news conference Saturday, an administration official – later identified by the Associated Press and the New York Times as chief of staff Mark Meadows – met with reporters and described the president’s condition earlier in the week as “very concerning.”

Events are still unclear, but some details were compiled by USA TODAY after examining reports by the White House pool of reporters, as well as Trump’s recent schedules.

Friday, Sept. 25 – week before diagnosis

11:11 a.m. EDT:  Trump

5 big questions on the White House’s botched handling of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis

As with previous flaps over Trump’s health, there is clearly tension between projecting the kind of strength he likes to see and providing actual, sober-minded details — a tension that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows seemed to acknowledge in his own updates on Trump’s situation.

Speaking to reporters Saturday, Meadows acknowledged that Trump was probably watching him on TV and “probably critiquing the way that I’m answering these questions.”

As of Sunday afternoon, there are very valid questions about whether anyone providing details of Trump’s health, including Conley and Meadows, can be trusted. Let’s run down the major questions and contradictions.

1. The oxygen question

At the start of Saturday’s briefings, Conley said Trump “this morning is not on oxygen, not having difficulty breathing or walking around the White House Medical Unit upstairs.”

But that seemed carefully worded. So he wasn’t on oxygen that morning, reporters noted, but what about before?

Conley repeatedly avoided a direct answer, focusing on the present tense:

QUESTION: And he is receiving no — he has not received any supplemental oxygen?

CONLEY: He is not on oxygen right now, that’s right.

QUESTION: He has not received any at all?

CONLEY: He has not needed any this morning today at all. That’s right. Now he’s —

QUESTION: Has he ever been on supplemental oxygen?

CONLEY: Right now, he is not on oxygen —

QUESTION: I understand. I know you keep saying right now. But should we read into the fact that he had been previously —

CONLEY: Yesterday and today he was not on oxygen.

QUESTION: So, he has not been on it during his covid treatment?

CONLEY: He is not on oxygen right now.

When you keep dodging a question like that, it’s for one of two reasons: a) You don’t

Panic and confusion permeate White House after Trump’s Covid diagnosis

Golden autumn sunshine shone down on Washington on Saturday to illuminate a US capital upended as Donald Trump began his first full day in hospital battling coronavirus amid a presidential election thrown into chaos.

a large clock tower towering over White House: Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Related: Amy Coney Barrett: quick confirmation under threat as three senators infected

Just hours earlier, on Friday evening after an excruciating wait for news, the president had emerged from the White House with a lacklustre wave and thumbs up, but ignoring reporters’ shouted questions about the state of his health.

Trump stalked slowly across the south lawn and boarded the US presidential helicopter. The only visual clue that something profound had changed was Trump’s face: he was wearing a mask.

As Marine One lifted into the sky just before sunset, the president left behind a White House staff suddenly rudderless, fearful and unsure how the story will end. The reality TV star turned president has delivered his greatest moment of suspense and the presidential election with its first “October surprise” but maybe not its last.

Trump, 74, is spending the weekend at a military hospital near Washington after discovering that not even the commander in chief of the world’s most powerful country is immune to the coronavirus. Said to be feverish and fatigued, there is huge uncertainty over his condition, its potential to deteriorate and whether he might become incapacitated.

In his absence, the mood in the White House was said to be one of panic, with growing concern over the extent of the spread of the virus within the building and whether it could disrupt the functioning of government.

Staff have taken their lead from Trump’s bubble of denial for months, eschewing face masks and congregating in the west wing’s cramped spaces and narrow hallways.

In the wake of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, the White House has yet to mobilize a CDC tracing team to contact hundreds of people who were in the president’s company

a group of people sitting at a park: President Donald Trump and Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden at the White House on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Alex Brandon/AP Photo

© Alex Brandon/AP Photo
President Donald Trump and Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden at the White House on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Alex Brandon/AP Photo

  • The White House is yet to deploy a ‘test and trace’ team of CDC experts following the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis, reported The Washington Post. 
  • The team’s function is to trace test those the president came into contact with while infected to stop the disease spreading further. 
  • Trump attended a fundraiser with 200 people and was in frequent contact with top officials while infected. 
  • Trump has long sought to downplay the seriousness of the disease that has killed more than 200,000 Americans. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House has yet to deploy a specialist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team to track and test those whom President Donald Trump came into contact with after being infected with the coronavirus. 

Two sources told The Washington Post Saturday that the CDC specialists’ team was on standby but had not yet begun to work tracing all of those the president came into contact with while infected. 

Contact tracing is one of the critical methods advocated by public health officials to contain the spread of coronavirus. The CDC in guidelines on its website says tracing “will be conducted for close contacts (any individual within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) of laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.”

It is not known precisely how or when Trump contracted the virus. Adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for the disease Wednesday and had traveled with the president to his debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday.

Following the debate, Trump took part in several public events, attending a fundraiser at his golf resort in