Official Who Met Barr, Ivanka, Kellyanne Contracts COVID-19


Some 135,000 cases and counting of the Coronavirus have been confirmed around the globe — including Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who revealed his diagnosis on Friday, hours after participating in a test for the disease. (In some U.S. cases, the wait for confirmation has apparently been much longer.) It’s not immediately clear where Dutton might have contracted the disease — currently, his country has only around 128 confirmed Coronavirus cases — but one thing is clear: just recently, he met with top White House officials including Attorney General Bill Barr, Trump daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, and longtime Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. There’s a photo of them together from just days ago, and those with the virus may transmit for days before symptoms.

On Friday, Dutton explained:

‘This morning I woke up with a temperature and sore throat. I immediately contacted the Queensland Department of Health and was subsequently tested for COVID-19. I was advised by Queensland Health this afternoon that the test had returned positive. It is the policy of Queensland Health that anyone who tests positive is to be admitted into hospital and I have complied with their advice. I feel fine and will provide and update in due course.’

Notably, Australia is where actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were when they recently tested positive for the Coronavirus. It’s unclear where they may have contracted it, but they’ve gone into quarantine like many other patients around the globe.

There’s no immediate apparent word from Barr and the others about whether or not they’ll be getting tested and/or isolating themselves. (Other top Republicans, like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, placed themselves under voluntary quarantine just to be safe after confirmed exposure to the virus.) Dutton is not the first Trump administration visitor who’s tested positive for the illness recently — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive days after he met and was photographed with Trump at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Trump said that he’s unconcerned, and apparently, neither he nor Vice President Mike Pence were initially slated for tests, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who also visited Mar-a-Lago, more quickly placed himself under voluntary self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.

There have been significant issues with testing for the Coronavirus in the U.S. The number of actually conducted tests has stayed in the low thousands, apparently, for weeks, and Trump and his allies say more are on the way, but they’ve been saying that for awhile. This Friday morning, Trump blamed Obama for the testing delays that have transpired under Trump’s own watch. Trump is the one who completely eliminated White House positions meant to respond to pandemics — not Obama.

Going forward, House Democrats have developed a Coronavirus response package that originally included provisions like major boosts in funding for state unemployment insurance programs and federal food assistance programs. Initially, Republicans like Mitch McConnell derided those basic, helpful measures as an “ideological wish list.” What happens next with the funding bill remains to be seen.