Pressed by CNN’s Joe Johns on the timing of when the White House learned Hope Hicks had tested positive, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows conceded that people knew of her positive diagnosis before Marine One took off for New Jersey on Thursday afternoon for a fundraiser.
Some staffers, he said, were pulled from Marine One, raising further questions about why the trip proceeded, the President coming into contact with numerous supporters at his Bedminster club.
"I’m not going to get into the tick tock. I can tell you, in terms of Hope Hicks, we discovered that right as the Marine One was taking off yesterday," Meadows said. "We actually pulled some of the people that have been traveling and in close contact. The reason why it was reported out, just frankly, is that we had already started to contact tracing just prior to that event,” he said.
Multiple senior staffers told CNN's Kaitlan Collins they did not learn of Hicks' diagnosis until Thursday night, shortly before it was reported by Bloomberg News.
Meadows claimed that the White House acted quickly to inform the public of the President’s diagnosis.
“As you know, last night, even in the early hours of this morning, the minute we got a confirmatory test on the President, we felt like it was important to get the news out there at that time, and so that's why we sent out a tweet late, late or early this morning,” he said.
Meadows said the White House has "protocols in place" to mitigate risks and make it easier for people to social distance, but regardless, the virus is still contagious.
"What you have is a virus that is contagious – that certainly continues to be regardless of whatever protocol we have, that it has the ability to affect everybody," he said.
"I can tell you that what we're doing is focusing on the therapeutics, the vaccines, continuing to do that, and that doesn't change," Meadows added.
Meadows declined to say whether President Trump, who tested positive for coronavirus, is taking hydroxychloroquine, a treatment he repeatedly touted despite questionable benefits. Trump, he reiterated, has “mild symptoms.
“Well, I'm not going to get into any particular treatment that he may or may not have but he has mild symptoms as we look at that the doctor will continue to provide expertise in the residence. He's in the residence now, and in a true fashion he's probably critiquing the way that I'm answering these questions,” Meadows said.