Incoming White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he is placing himself in self-quarantine Monday after a fellow Conservative Political Action Conference attendee tested positive for the coronavirus following the annual event in the D.C. area less than two weeks ago. Meadows says he is not exhibiting symptoms, and a spokesman said the North Carolina congressman tested negative for the virus but will remain at home until Wednesday, presumably the 14-day mark from when Meadows attended the four-day convention that ran from Feb. 26 to 29.
The gathering was attended by President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, as well as senior administration officials and a wide range of elected Republicans. Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz both announced Monday they were self-quarantining after learning they came into contact with the individual who tested positive. Neither Collins nor Gaetz has exhibited symptoms of the virus, but they have been in close contact with Trump since the conference. Gaetz traveled with Trump on Air Force One on Monday. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, both of whom attended CPAC, announced over the weekend that they would be self-quarantining, as did CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp, who introduced Trump and shook his hand before the president’s remarks on the final day of the conference.
Gaetz told the Washington Post “he was put into a ‘closed-up room’ on Air Force One after he found out about his exposure to the virus,” but after the plane landed “Trump ‘coaxed’ him up front before leaving the aircraft. “He was not hyper-cautious about being in the same space that I was in,” Gaetz said. “I refused to go into his office; I stood outside the door. I told him he could talk from that distance.” Collins accompanied Trump on a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday and was photographed that day shaking the president’s hand.
Despite coming into close contact with people who have been exposed to the virus, which appears to be able to be spread asymptomatically, the White House insisted that Trump had not been tested for the coronavirus. “The President has not received COVID-19 testing because he has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients, nor does he have any symptoms,” White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “President Trump remains in excellent health, and his physician will continue to closely monitor him.”
“The president of the United States, as we all know, is quite a hand-washer,” Grisham told Fox News. “He uses hand sanitizer all the time. So he’s not concerned about this at all.”