The Slatest

At Least Four People Who Attended the Amy Coney Barrett Announcement Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

Rows of attendees, mostly maskless, seated closely together in the Rose Garden.
The audience at Amy Coney Barrett’s White House nomination event on Saturday. A maskless Utah Sen. Mike Lee is in the second row, to the right of the frame, wearing a blue tie; John Jenkins is the third person to Lee’s left. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee and the Rev. John Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame, said Friday that they have tested positive for COVID-19, making them the third and fourth people present at a Saturday White House nomination-announcement event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to have disclosed such a diagnosis. (The first two were Donald and Melania Trump.) An as-yet-unidentified journalist who was at the White House Saturday has also reportedly tested positive; it’s not clear if that person attended the Barrett event.

Trump introduced Barrett, a graduate of Notre Dame Law School, in the White House Rose Garden. As can be seen above, those in attendance sat closely together, and most did not wear masks. The Washington Post just reported that Barrett contracted the virus “in the summer” but has since recovered; the White House says she took a test Friday morning but was negative.

As president of Notre Dame, Jenkins was instrumental in the push to reopen college campuses and proceed with college football season, writing in the New York Times in May that he was confident both students and athletes could be kept safe. Earlier this week, the Notre Dame football team announced that at least 18 of its players had contracted the coronavirus in an outbreak believed to have been spread in part by an infected player vomiting on the sideline during a game.

Lee was recorded on video hugging two other people who were at the Barrett event, and he has been attending indoor meetings in the Capitol this week.

Barrett’s nomination hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee are scheduled to start Oct. 13, and it would be possible under normal circumstances for her to be confirmed by the entire Senate less than a week after that. The Judiciary Committee, of which Lee is a member, can vote remotely to advance her nomination, but remote voting is not currently permitted on the Senate floor. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 isolate themselves for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms.