Late last month, Mick Mulvaney, who was still the acting White House chief of staff at the time, told a crowd of conservative activists that the media was exaggerating the threat posed by covid-19 because “they think this will bring down the president, that’s what this is all about. . . . It’s not a death sentence, it’s not the same as the Ebola crisis.”
But unbeknown to attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Mulvaney had already received a coronavirus test, at the recommendation of the White House physician. The test, which has not been reported until now, was followed by a second this month after a niece with whom Mulvaney shares an apartment was around members of a Brazilian delegation who later tested positive for the virus.
Mulvaney is one of three President Donald Trump confidants to get a coronavirus test while exhibiting no symptoms of the disease. And on Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced he tested positive despite being asymptomatic, refusing to disclose how he was able to get tested in Washington on March 16.
The easy access Paul and other high-ranking politicians have gotten to coronavirus tests highlights the extent to which members of America’s elite continue to have greater access to medical care during the pandemic, even as federal officials emphasize that testing should be reserved for health care providers and people who are seriously ill. Even in the nation’s capital, hospitals are reporting a shortage of tests and the protective gear needed to administer them.
“It’s a horrible flouting of our public health recommendations,” Robyn Gershon, a clinical professor of epidemiology at the New York University School of Global Public Health, said in a phone interview.
In the cases of Mulvaney, Trump’s incoming chief of staff Mark Meadows and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., White House medical staffers arranged for their tests on the grounds that they risked infecting the president. Both Meadows and Gaetz came into contact with someone at last month’s CPAC gathering who then learned he had contracted covid-19.
People close to Mulvaney and Meadows said it was necessary to get a test because they spend so much time with the president and other powerful lawmakers and advisers.
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SOURCE: Stamford Advocate; The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim