Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines, October 5 2020

Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines from Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs practice.

In Washington:

  • As planned, the House of Representatives is on recess through the election but Democratic leadership may call members back for a potential vote on a coronavirus stimulus bill.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has postponed floor activity through Oct. 19, in the wake of many Senators being exposed COVID-19 through the White House.   McConnell still plans for the Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward with its confirmation hearings for SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett which begins Oct. 12.  Members are being asked to participate virtually if they can't appear in person.
  • The President’s health continues to be in question after a weekend of conflicting news and information being released by the White House and his team of doctors. The President’s medical team, led by Dr. Sean Conley, a Navy commander, said that the President was doing well enough that he might return to the White House on Monday despite the seriousness of the medications and treatments he has been receiving. The President tweeted that he will be discharged at 6:30 p.m. Monday even though his doctors say he “may not be entirely out of the woods yet.”  The news prompts concerns because of the number of risk factors of severe coronavirus symptoms that remain.  Trump was given the steroid dexamethasone, which is only administered to those who have severe and critical infections.  The medical team has received significant criticism after admitting to giving a misleading report on Saturday and continue to be evasive in their answers about the president’s test and treatments.  
  • What is known is the President is receiving a variety of treatments of experimental cocktails, remdesivir, and dexamethasone.  Trump also suffered two drops in oxygen levels and was given supplemental oxygen on Friday.  He also had a high fever though the doctors will not say how high the fever was.  They say the President does not currently have a fever. Trump has also had lung scans, but there have been no reports of the findings or whether there has been damage to his lungs.  Ther are also questions whether the President has pneumonia.
  • President Trump left his hospital room on Sunday to wave at supporters from his motorcade.  The move was highly scrutinized due to the president’s current condition and because it unnecessarily exposed his Secret Service and their families to COVID-19 as he was driven around in a hermetically sealed vehicle.
  • Trump did not disclose his initial positive Covid-19 test result on Thursday but waited until a second test confirmed the results on Friday.   Despite his positive result, he still appeared on FOX News, revealing nothing, instead confirming that one of his top aides had tested positive and that he himself was awaiting the results of a test he had done that evening.
  • The fallout is resulting in the White House now becoming a COVID-19 hotspot.  It is increasingly looking like the SCOTUS nomination event held at the White House is where many most people spread the disease.  Since reporting Friday, here are the additional people that have been found positive.

Tested Positive

  • On Monday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany reported that she tested positive for COVID-19.   McEnany did not follow CDC guidelines to quarantine and repeatedly addressed journalists until yesterday, without a mask after finding out her direct exposure to the virus. Two White House Press deputies Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt have also tested positive.
  • Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tested positive on Saturday and there still has been no word of his condition since being admitted to the hospital.  Christie admitted himself due to preexisting conditions that put him at high-risk. Christie was close to Trump while preparing for the debates.
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is on the Senate Judiciary Committee was diagnosed positive Friday evening.  The Senator attended a fundraiser where masks were not used while waiting to get his coronavirus test results. Johnson noted that he wore a mask and kept eight feet away from others.
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), also on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced he tested positive on Friday. 
  • Former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and her daughter,  Claudia Conway, announced that they tested positive on Saturday evening. 
  • Trump Campaign Manager Bill Stepien and the Assistant to the President Nicholas Luna
  • Nicholas Luna, Assistant to the President, and several staff members tested positive over the weekend.  

Tested Negative

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden has tested negative for coronavirus for the third time since being potentially exposed to the virus during the presidential debates on Sept. 29.  Most people incubate the virus for two to 14 days before testing positive.   Biden’s doctors said that he will be tested more frequently moving forward.
  • A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner says they tested negative for the virus this morning.  Several businesses in Belmont, NC closed for “deep cleaning” Friday after Ivanka Trump visited the stores on Friday despite having been exposed to the virus.
  • Vice President Mike Pence continues to test negative but has not quarantined. 

Campaigns

  • The Biden campaign has changed its approach by not directly attacking President Trump in his speeches and pulling all his negative campaign.  He will continue campaigning with the same strict adherence to state and national COVID-19 guidelines that his campaign has been practicing in the past.  Biden also says he is open to moving forward with the debates even though the president tested positive.  The Debate Commission says they will take all the necessary precautions to ensure that everybody who attends the debate is safe.   Furthermore, they will make it a requirement for those attending to wear a mask. 
  • Sen. Kamala Harris is also changing her campaign strategy for Wednesday’s Vice Presidential.  Harris will be less personal about President Trump in her answers, but will not shy away from the administration’s record on pandemic.    

 

Authored by Ivan Zapien

Contacts
Ivan Zapien
Partner
Washington, D.C.
Shelley Castle
Legislative Specialist
Washington, D.C.
Jared Crum
Associate
Washington, D.C.

 

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