President Donald Trump said he is not worried by the arrival of the coronavirus in the Washington area, even after it was confirmed that an infected man was at a conference the president attended just outside the capital city.
“No, I’m not concerned at all,” Trump told reporters Saturday when asked if he was troubled by the cases around Washington. “No, we’ve done a great job with it.”
The president, speaking at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, insisted that the spreading virus will not stop him from campaigning and vowed to continue to “have tremendous rallies.”
He touted his administration’s response to the virus, which Democrats have sharply criticized, saying, “We’ve done a fantastic job.” The president made the remarks before a dinner at the resort with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
On Saturday, the American Conservative Union announced in a statement that one of the attendees at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both spoke at the event, which was held Feb. 26-29.
The group said the man, a New Jersey resident, was exposed to the virus before the conference, where he “had no interaction with the President or Vice President.” The White House said Saturday that there was no indication Pence or Trump had been in “close proximity” to the man.
New Jersey health officials confirmed the man, 55, was in stable condition and has been hospitalized in Englewood since March 4. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Saturday that the man also attended services at a temple in New Rochelle, New York, on Feb. 23.
In addition to CPAC, the District of Columbia reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Saturday. The city’s Department of Health said the person had never traveled outside the U.S. but added, “there is still no widespread community transmission, and the general level of risk for residents is low.”
On Sunday, the D.C. Health Department said that “out of an abundance of caution” it was “recommending a temporary pause of services at Christ Church in Georgetown,” which the infected person had visited.
“We are currently conducting an intensive investigation to identify any exposures to COVID-19 that may have occurred at the church. DC Health will reach out to potentially impacted congregants and visitors as we continue to gather more information to ensure the health and safety of the public,” the department said.
In Virginia, a Marine who recently returned from an overseas assignment was being treated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, the Department of Defense said in a statement Saturday. The Army base is about 40 miles south of Washington.
Trump has been criticized for downplaying the threat posed by the virus, while the president has accused the news media and his political opponents of hyping the spread of the illness to damage him politically.
“We have a perfectly coordinated and fine-tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “We moved VERY early to close borders to certain areas, which was a Godsend. V.P. is doing a great job. The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!”
Contributing: Katie Sobko, North Jersey Record; The Associated Press
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