New Jersey health officials said Sunday that at least 206 guests may have been exposed to COVID-19 at President Donald Trump’s campaign fundraiser on Thursday, just hours before he announced his positive test result.
The White House gave state officials the names of 206 people who attended the high-dollar event at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. The list ― which does not include staff working at the club ― allows health officials to have enough information to accurately contact trace in connection with the fundraiser.
Previous reports said that Trump came into contact with 100 people at the fundraiser and that he seemed “lethargic,” a common symptom of the virus.
A senior aide to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) told HuffPost on Friday afternoon that the state was still waiting for the full roster of everyone who attended the event ― including donors, outside vendors and club workers.
Because it took days for the White House and the Republican National Committee to provide New Jersey with a full list of attendees, anyone who was infected at the fundraiser went untreated and may have continued to spread the virus.
Health officials said they’re reaching out to the attendees to make them aware of potential COVID-19 exposure, recommend that individuals self-monitor for any symptoms and quarantine if they were in close contact with Trump, who is currently hospitalized with the virus.
Health officials in Somerset County were interviewing club staff members to assess how much contact they had with Trump and his staff and to provide appropriate health recommendations. Most of the Trump club staff reside in the county.
“The contact tracing process is ongoing,” the Department of Health tweeted Sunday. “Attendees that are seeking a test should consider waiting at least 5-7 days from the event. While the risk is low, a negative test earlier than that time cannot definitively rule out that COVID-19 will not develop. … Those who are concerned that they were in close contact should quarantine for 14 days.”
The department added that state officials have been informed that the federal government is also conducting contact tracing in connection with the fundraiser in Bedminster. In addition to alerting people when they have been exposed to COVID-19, contact tracing also provides accurate medical information about testing and quarantining. Contact tracers may also call other close contacts.
Attendees told the New Jersey Globe that the more crowded portion of Trump’s fundraiser took place outdoors, but that a roundtable and photo op with the president happened indoors, where the virus was more likely to spread. Sixteen donors attended the roundtable, which reportedly cost $250,000 per head. A separate report by The Washington Post said that Trump met with about two dozen supporters at the roundtable.
HuffPost found that social media posts after Trump’s diagnosis revealed that people who went to the fundraiser with the president had already spread out across the country, had gone out in public and had not worn masks. Three people who attended told the New Jersey Globe that they would get tested but did not plan to quarantine until they received results.
Brandon Dawson — CEO of the Audigy Group, based in Vancouver, Washington — and his fiancee, Natalie Workman, were both guests at the fundraiser, as documented on Dawson’s Instagram account. On Friday afternoon, more than 12 hours after news broke of Trump’s diagnosis, the couple posted several Instagram stories of themselves without masks as they toured a building under construction in Arizona, where at least one other person was present.
Trump announced early Friday morning that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus, just hours after news broke that White House aide Hope Hicks tested positive Thursday evening.
The president was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Friday and is still receiving treatment.
At a news conference on Saturday, Trump’s White House physician, Sean Conley, gave a timeline that suggested the president had serious reason to suspect he had COVID-19 long before he announced it, yet continued to behave as if he were not infected.
In addition to the New Jersey fundraiser on Thursday, Trump also attended a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday and the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday.
At least 11 cases were tied to the debate as of Friday, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who helped Trump prepare for the debate.
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