Donald Trump came into contact with about 500 people soon after testing positive for COVID-19.
A new Washington Post analysis traced Trump's events and interactions in late September 2020.
Mark Meadows revealed Trump's previously undisclosed September 26 positive test in his memoir.
Then-President Donald Trump came into contact with about 500 people, excluding attendees at his rallies, in the seven days after he tested positive for the coronavirus in September 2020, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
Trump's fourth and final chief of staff, Mark Meadows, disclosed the president's previously unknown September 26 positive test in his memoir, "The Chief's Chief," a copy of which was obtained by The Guardian ahead of publication.
According to Meadows' account, Trump seemed a bit tired and appeared to have a slight cold on September 26, the day he hosted a large ceremony and reception at the White House for his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
But Meadows received some bad news that evening on the way to a Trump rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania, when the White House physician Sean Conley called to inform him that Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.
"Stop the president from leaving," Conley told Meadows as Trump was on Marine One. "He just tested positive for COVID."
"Mr. President," Meadows recalled saying, "I've got some bad news. You've tested positive for COVID-19."
Meadows, in the book, sums up Trump's response as rhyming with, "'Oh, spit, you've gotta be trucking lidding me,'" according to The Guardian.
The chief of staff then told Trump that the first positive test came from an older-model kit, saying they would do another test with "the Binax system, and that we were hoping the first test was a false positive."
Instead of conducting a new COVID-19 test, officials simply ran the same sample through another testing device — not a proper procedure for COVID-19 testing — and got a negative result, according to The Post.
Trump came in contact with 150 people on September 26, the day of the Rose Garden ceremony; 70 people on September 27, when he held a White House ceremony with Gold Star families that he later blamed for infecting him; and 30 people on September 28, according to The Post's analysis.
Trump then had contact with 20 people — including now-President Joe Biden — on September 29, the day of the first presidential debate at Case Western University in Cleveland; 55 people on September 30; and 200 people on October 1, the day both he and the first lady, Melania Trump, tested positive, per The Post.
"The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News. In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate," he said.
Ben Williamson, a representative for Meadows, later said, "The book is quite clearly referring to a 'false positive' rapid test the president received," The Post reported. Williamson added that Trump "did not have COVID before or during the debate." And Meadows retweeted Trump's statement, posted by Trump's representative Liz Harrington, decrying the account in his own book as fake news.
Trump doubled down in a Monday-morning statement.
"The Fake News continues to push the false narrative that I had Covid prior to the first debate. My Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed I did not have Covid before or during the debate, saying, 'And yet, the way that the media wants to spin it is certainly to be as negative about Donald Trump as they possibly can while giving Joe Biden a pass,'" Trump said, adding: "Biden goes around coughing on people all over the place, and yet the Corrupt News doesn't even cover it."
Meadows did not disclose Trump's positive test to those who attended the Rose Garden ceremony, the organizers of the September 29 presidential debate — where Trump risked exposing Biden and other debate attendees — or the public. Meadows also kept Vice President Mike Pence and senior White House staffers who had been in contact with Trump in the dark about Trump's first positive test, The Post reported.
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