October 3, 2020 at 1:23 a.m. EDT
How the virus spread
By Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa
The ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House last Saturday was a triumphant throwback to the past ̵
1; before public health guidelines restricted mass gatherings, before people were asked to wear masks and social distancing. The President and First Lady greeted more than 150 guests as he formally introduced his Supreme Court nominee to Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
The mood was high. Eventually, Trump steered the national discussion away from the coronavirus pandemic – which had already killed more than 200,000 people in the US and was still raging – to more favorable terrain, a possible conservative realignment of the Supreme Court.
Participants were so confident that the contagion would not invade their seemingly safe space in the White House that after guests tested negative that day, according to Rev. John I. Jenkins, President of Notre Dame University, they were directed to their cover no longer covers faces. The mantra without a mask also applies to indoors. Cabinet members, senators, Barrett’s family members, and others mingled lightly at crowded receptions in the diplomatic and cabinet rooms of the White House.
Five days later, that feeling of invincibility was cruelly pierced. On Thursday, President’s adviser Hope Hicks, who experienced symptoms during a trip with the President to Minnesota on Wednesday, tested positive for the virus. That evening, Trump announced that he and the first lady had also tested positive and began isolating themselves at the White House residence.
On Friday, Lee and Jenkins announced that they too tested positive, as did Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who recently spent time with the president, including at an indoor fundraiser last week. At least three journalists who attended White House events last week also reported positive tests on Friday. And White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said he was preparing for additional infections among administrative officials.