Trump COVID Diagnosis: Mayor Carlos Gimenez Greeted POTUS in Miami
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Those of us who weren’t up at 1 a.m. saw the news this morning that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19. The president is reported to be experiencing “mild symptoms”, the Trumps are being quarantined, and frantic tracing efforts are underway for anyone who has recently contacted the president.
Trump was in Miami a week ago today to hold a panel discussion on Latinos for Trump at his Doral golf resort. A crowd of approximately 150 people gathered to hear the Hispanic voters for the presidential court. Photos and videos from the event reveal a lack of mask use and social distancing.
On Twitter this morning, Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald pointed out that Miami-Dade County’s Mayor Carlos A. Giménez personally greeted “a maskless” Trump on the tarmac at Miami International Airport last Friday.
Miami-Dade @MayorGimenez greeted a maskless @realDonaldTrump on the MIA tarmac 7 days ago. Gimenez said he wasn’t worried. “It was standing 8 feet away, outside, pretty windy, and I was wearing a level 3 surgical mask.”
– Doug Hanks (@doug_hanks) October 2, 2020
Hanks added that Giménez told him he wasn’t worried because the President was eight feet away and they were outside. And even though the president was maskless, Giménez told Hanks he was wearing a “level 3 surgical mask”.
In response to today’s New Times questions about whether Giménez has been or should be tested for COVID, a mayor’s spokeswoman said she was working on a statement.
Giménez was in close contact in March when he attended an event in Miami with several Brazilian officials who subsequently tested positive for the virus. Giménez tested negative four days after attending the event.
The incubation time for the virus is estimated to be two to fourteen days, but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people generally begin to experience symptoms within four to five days of exposure.
In a Twitter thread this morning, Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, estimated that the president was likely infected sometime between Saturday and Monday.
Update published at 2:30 p.m .: Giménez, who is running for Congress with Trump’s seal of approval, said in a statement:
“I wish President Trump and the First Lady of the United States a speedy recovery after testing positive for COVID-19. Having been exposed to the virus in March but negative and quarantined, I understand the importance of isolation In both cases, to protect family, friends, work colleagues and our community. May POTUS and FLOTUS and all who are tested stay healthy for our country during this difficult time. ”
Trump’s own stance on masks has been inconsistent since the coronavirus emerged. He downplayed the effectiveness of face coverings, claiming the virus would simply go away. For months, the president refused to wear a mask during public engagements. Most recently, he said he wore face-coverings when needed, but mocked Democratic President Joe Biden for wearing masks in public.
During a visit to South Florida in July for a tour of U.S. Southern Command and a round table in Venezuela, Trump violated the county’s mask mandate by leaving Air Force One at Miami International Airport without a face covering. He got away with not wearing a mask at SOUTHCOM and in the church where the roundtable was taking place because the district’s mask mandate provides for exceptions for the use of masks in churches and federal buildings.
At the Latinos for Trump event last Friday, the president was photographed taking selfies with maskless followers without a face covering himself.
Dr. Terry Adirim, senior associate dean of clinical affairs at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Medicine, says the risk of infection is low for people who attended the Latinos for Trump event last Friday and came in contact with the president in Miami.
“Typically, you go back 48 hours before symptoms develop or test positive if you are asymptomatic,” Adirim told the New Times. “That’s what we usually think of, the length of time you’re contagious or contagious. He was probably contagious Monday through Wednesday. I would be more concerned about the people in the debate.”
Trump and Biden fought a debate over a dumpster fire on Tuesday. The Bidens family doctor today issued a statement confirming that the Democratic candidate and his wife Jill tested negative for the virus.
Several members of Trump’s family who reportedly breached mandatory mask rules during the debate also took a negative COVID-19 test.
Adirim, who was a senior public health official with the U.S. Department of Defense and worked on the federal response to the 2009 Hendemod1, warns that while the risk of infection from the Miami event is small, it is problematic that Trump continued to hold rallies and large-scale events where supporters would normally be maskless during the pandemic.
The President of Notre Dame University, who attended the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the White House Supreme Court on Saturday without wearing a mask, tested positive for COVID-19 today. In light of this news, more needs to be done to get in touch and “determine when Trump and his people were exposed and if anyone was exposed on Friday,” Adirim said during Trump’s visit to Miami.
The announcement of Trump’s positive COVID-19 test came hours after one of his long-time associates, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the virus. Hicks, the president, and several aides traveled together earlier in the week. The White House reportedly wanted to keep Hicks’ positive test result a secret.
Trump suggested that Hicks might have caught the virus from someone in law enforcement or the military.
“It’s very, very hard when you’re with people in the military or law enforcement and they want to come up to you and hug and kiss you because we did a really good job for them,” the president told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “You get closer and things happen.”
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Alexi C. Cardona is an employee at Miami New Times. A native of Hialeah, she is happy to be home writing about Miami’s weirdness after working for the Naples Daily News for four years.