The repeated infections within the White House underscore the attitude with which the administration has handled the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 235,000 Americans since February. Trump and his allies, including Meadows, have frequently flouted public health guidelines and continued to hold large indoor gatherings where few people wear masks or socially distance.
Meadows has fought with the doctors about the severity of the virus, argued about the effectiveness of masks and has repeatedly sought to move the president away from focusing on the virus, officials say.
After the outbreak in Pence’s office, Meadows appeared on CNN to say the administration had effectively given up on trying to slow the virus’s spread.
“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Oct. 25. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
Meadows has for months openly brushed off the importance of wearing masks during the pandemic. On Election Day, Meadows visited the Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, where he was photographed not wearing a mask.
Meadows was also among those in the East Room of the White House when Trump gave remarks around 3 a.m. Wednesday to a crowd of about 150 of his top aides, donors and allies, as well as family members. During that event, Meadows worked the room extensively, without a mask, speaking to dozens. He stood near Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski, one of the few people there who was wearing a mask.
Ben Williamson, a Meadows spokesman, could not be reached for comment Friday night. An administration official said contact tracing around Meadows’s diagnosis has been conducted but offered no further details.
The same carelessness hurt Trump in the election, as the president trails Joe Biden in four of six battleground states where votes are still being counted. For months, Trump was criticized for publicly playing down the dangers of the virus. Leading up to Election Day, polls showed that voters overwhelmingly trusted Biden over Trump when it came to handling the pandemic.