While the president is agitating for states to loosen their constraints and allow Americans to return to workplaces and businesses, the views of his aides who suffered the disease did little to boost confidence that the nation is ready to return to normal, even as unemployed claim skyrocket to never seen -For levels and options to revive the economy fall short.
At the same time, it had no apparent effect on Trump's willingness to continue as normal on Friday, as he waived a mask while visiting with non-magical World War II veterans and invited a large group of lawmakers to the White House for a meeting, all of which was tested before arrival. Asked about why his staff did not wear masks on Friday, Trump pointed to one White House official in the room who was: The White House photographer.
It's all part of Trump's business-as-usual approach that has become his standard as he seems to move past the outbreak.
Even as cases continue to increase and deaths count north, Trump has urged governors to consider lifting their restrictions, though most states do not yet meet the reopening criteria he unveiled last month. He has neglected the need for more testing, although his medical experts have said the opposite and some of his aides now receive them daily.
And he has refused to wear a mask in public, believing that the image of him behind a face cover will send the wrong message as he works to convince Americans that the health crisis is disappearing.
But pandemics are little aware of messages. And although Trump hopes to project business as usual in the White House, the virus raging outside the gates has found a way in.
Trump was angry this week when he learned that the valet was testing positive and asked aides how it was possible a person responsible for handling his drinks could have been exposed to the virus. Trump does not like germs and has tricked employees before when they cough or sneeze in his presence. News of the positive case "hit the fans" among employees Wednesday night, said people familiar with the case.
"It's a little strange, but it's one of those things," Trump said when asked if the incident made him calm.
Afterwards, lots of Secret Service agents and officers, along with administration staff, were seen handing in a makeshift test facility on the White House campus to be tested themselves. Trump told reporters that everyone around him would now be tested every day – though he also hinted that it "wasn't a perfect art" and has downplayed the need for extensive testing in states that want to reopen.
In private, some White House officials have said it was only a matter of time before the virus arrived in the West Wing, where aides rarely wear masks and social distances are recommended in theory, but often difficult to perform in practice.
"I don't want to go into all the procedures we have started," he said. "But I can tell you that this is probably the safest place you can come to."
Later, Meadows said people serving Trump nearby, such as the officers, would start wearing masks and offered tests to journalists covering the president.
When a White House employee first got coronavirus in March, it was seen as a one-off drug that did not appear to cause further infection among executive staff. But the latest cases involve people who work in much closer proximity to the president and vice president. And they even happened to the robust screening and testing practices the White House Medical Unit adopted earlier in the outbreak.
Both strike in the heart of the West Wing. The military officers responsible for the president's personal needs are a rare group with access to the food he eats and the diet cooks he calls with the push of a red button. Pence's spokeswoman Katie Miller is one of the Vice President's top aides and typically accompanies him to labor board meetings in the situation room. She is also married to Stephen Miller, Trump's senior policy adviser. The president attended their wedding in February.
News that she had tested positive caused an hour-long delay in Pence's trip on Friday to Iowa. A number of employees who had come in contact with her were planning to be tested themselves. The results came back negative.
The vice president's office said Miller tested positive on Friday, but had tested negative just a day earlier – meaning the case would probably go unnoticed if the White House had not imposed daily tests for staff after the valet was found to have it.
The new test rules have only emphasized to help the new reality they are in: forced to confront a virus that has not yielded, even though Trump says the country must reopen and Americans must return to work.
That was the intended message of the trip Tuesday to Arizona, where he toured at a Honeywell mask post and gave a 20-minute speech. Trump had been itching to ditch the White House, though he prefers to continue hosting violent campaign rallies instead of the official visits the aides have planned for the next few weeks.
However, the long-lasting effects of the pandemic followed him. When he landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, dozens of available commercial jetliners were parked nearby, a reminder that Air Force One was one of the few planes still flying.
During a round table with Native Americans, Trump carried boxes of fast test kits made by Abbott Labs, the same product used in the White House to test him and his coronavirus staff. Trump has used to offer the Abbott sets as gifts, including saying he would send one to former Vice President Joe Biden so he could continue the campaign.
When Trump talked to plant workers at the masking facility, they met him as he sat six feet apart and wore all the masks. Trump even briefly put on a mask behind the scene, but seemed uncomfortable, according to a person familiar with the matter. He was told by a Honeywell manager that it was not necessary for him to wear it, although a sign posted at the facility said that masks for workers were needed.
Walking from table to table in the facility, protected only by a pair of goggles, and a cover of Guns and Roses & # 39; "Live and Let Die" blared loudly.