President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus as the United States sets daily records for confirmed cases during the pandemic.
Two senior administration officials confirmed Friday that Meadows tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than 236,000 Americans so far this year. They offered no details on when the chief of staff came down with the virus or his current condition. His diagnosis was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Another top campaign aide, Nick Trainer, also tested positive, according to the Reuters news agency who quoted unidentified sources.
More than 127,000 new infections were reported in the US on Friday, the third straight day of record cases, as votes from the bitterly fought presidential election were still being counted.
Trump has been a vocal opponent of lockdown measures, citing their effect on the economy, and has repeatedly clashed with his own government’s experts over coronavirus policy.
Meadows, Trump’s top adviser and a former North Carolina legislator, travelled with Trump in the run-up to Election Day and last appeared in public early Wednesday without a mask as Trump falsely declared victory in the vote count. He had been one of the close aides around Trump when the president came down with the virus more than a month ago, but was tested daily and maintained his regular work schedule.
It marked the latest case of the virus in the West Wing, coming not even two weeks after Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff and other aides tested positive for the virus.
‘Rounding the turn’
Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and at least two dozen others tested positive for the virus in early October after Trump held large gatherings of people not wearing face-masks, including the ceremony announcing the nomination of now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
His national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, was also sickened with the virus, and another friend of Trump’s, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, died of the coronavirus in July after attending one of Trump’s rallies.
Trump has repeatedly said the nation is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic, which was top of mind for voters in Tuesday’s election.
COVID-19 cases in the US have increased more than 50 percent in the past two weeks. According to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose from 61,166 on October 22 to 94,625 on November 5.