Editor’s note 11:00 a.m.: This article has been updated to reflect new comments from Representative Gaetz and Politico.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Representative Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) have tested positive for coronavirus, according to various reports, in the latest outbreak of the illness in President Trump’s inner circle.
Gaetz informed multiple people on Capitol Hill and the White House of his diagnosis, Politico reported on Saturday. However, Gaetz denied the Politico report, writing on Twitter, “This story is false. I have antibodies, not the virus.”
Gaetz told people in the White House and on the hill he had covid last week. He knows that. But this is part of the shtick. https://t.co/s52NcQB0VP
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) November 7, 2020
“I have no symptoms and no live virus,” Gaetz told the New York Times. “No idea when I had virus.”
Politico stood by its story, with reporter Jake Sherman claiming Gaetz informed people of his diagnosis last week.
Meanwhile, Meadows tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday and at least four White House officials have contracted the illness, Bloomberg reported on Friday. Nick Trainer, a senior Trump campaign aide, has also contracted coronavirus.
The new outbreak marks the second time coronavirus has spread among senior White House officials and Trump allies. The president himself was hospitalized for coronavirus on October 2, while a slew of Republican senators and Trump administration officials were diagnosed with the illness around the same time.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commented that the outbreak likely began at the nomination ceremony for Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett, held at the White House Rose Garden on September 26.
“The data speak for themselves,” Fauci told CBS in an interview in early October. “We had a super-spreader event in the White House. And it was in a situation where people were crowded together, were not wearing masks. So the data speaks for themselves.”