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Number of Covid cases grows among people who attended White House ceremony

Kristen Welker and Alicia Victoria Lozano
·3 min read
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The number of people from President Donald Trump's orbit who have tested positive for the coronavirus is growing, with at least seven confirmed cases tied to an event in the Rose Garden last weekend.

On Sept. 26, Trump officially announced federal appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the next Supreme Court justice at an outdoor ceremony attended by more than 150 people, many of whom did not wear masks or practice social distancing.

In addition to the president and the first lady, at least five other people who were at the ceremony have been confirmed to have Covid-19: former top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins and a White House journalist.

Conway is the latest to confirm that she was infected.

"Tonight I tested positive for COVID-19," she said in a statement Friday night. "My symptoms are mild (light cough) and I'm feeling fine. I have begun a quarantine process in consultation with physicians. As always, my heart is with everyone affected by this global pandemic."

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Trump, who is being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he is receiving experimental treatment and is expected to remain for several days, revealed his and his wife's diagnoses in a tweet early Friday, throwing everything from the presidential election to the Supreme Court confirmation process into question.

Democrats were quick to call for a delay in Barrett's confirmation hearing, but Republicans pushed back and said they intend to move forward. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chair of the Judiciary Committee, said in a tweet Friday that the hearings remain scheduled to begin Oct. 12 and raised the possibility of virtual hearings.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a tweet: "We now have two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have tested positive for COVID, and there may be more. I wish my colleagues well. It is irresponsible and dangerous to move forward with a hearing, and there is absolutely no good reason to do so."

Both Tillis and Lee are members of the Judiciary Committee.

"Over the last few months, I've been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive," Tillis said. "I will be following the recommendations of my doctor and will be self-isolating at home for 10 days and notifying those I've been in close contact with."

Other members of Trump's inner circle, including his children, said they have tested negative.

Conway's daughter Claudia Conway posted a video on TikTok announcing her mother's diagnosis even before her mother issued a statement. Claudia Conway said she is "furious" that her mother, who brushed off wearing a mask during the pandemic, exposed the family to Covid-19.