Hope Hicks is traveling with President Donald Trump again, marking her first flight on the presidential aircraft since testing positive for the coronavirus.
Hicks, who serves as an adviser to the president, left the White House with the president and other staff on Thursday for a two-day campaign trip to North Carolina and Florida.
She was not wearing a face mask when she boarded Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House nor when she boarded Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who tested positive for COVID, was also on the trip.
It’s unclear when Hicks officially returned to work. Thursday marks the end of 14 days from her positive test but the White House has been arguing that 10 days is also sufficient to quarantine if a person is not showing symptoms.
Hicks tested positive for coronavirus on October 1. She started feeling ill on Wednesday, September 30, when she was in Minnesota with the president. She quarantined herself on Air Force One when she flew back with Trump and White House staff.
News of her diagnosis set off a chain reaction that resulted in questions and criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic within their own ranks.
Counselor to the President Hope Hicks, along with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, boards Air Force One on Thursday for a two-day trip with President Trump
Thursday marked Hope Hicks first public appearance since she tested positive for COVID
President Trump is taking a two-day campaign trip to North Carolina and Florida
The criticism increased after a report White House officials sought to keep Hicks’ diagnosis a secret. Bloomberg News broke the news of her positive test.
It’s unclear if she was Patient Zero, however. Hicks was not at the September 26 Rose Garden announcement for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, an event that became known as super spreader after at least 13 people in attendance later tested positive – including the president and first lady.
Hicks only told the president, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and a few senior aides she tested positive, reported The Washington Post. Many colleagues were outraged to learn of her diagnosis through the media or the office grapevine.
Trump knew of Hicks’ diagnosis but proceeded with his scheduled events for his day, including a million-dollar fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club.
After that fundraiser, shortly before 1 am on Friday morning, the White House announced the president and first lady tested positive for COVID.
Questions were immediately raised about whether Trump should have attended the event in New Jersey with hundreds of donors, when he last tested negative for COVID (which the White House still has not answered), and if he had infected Joe Biden during their presidential debate in Cleveland earlier that week.
Hope Hicks did not wear a face mask for her trip with the president
The president sounded vague on what happened when he talked about Hicks’ diagnosis during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News the Thursday night she tested positive.
‘So, she did test positive. I just heard about this. She tested positive,’ he said.
He added he and first lady Melania Trump had just been tested.
‘I just went out with a test. I’ll see what — because we spend a lot of time. And the first lady just went out with a test also,’ he said.
The White House has not given specifics on when tests were given and results were learned so it’s unclear if Trump was tested Thursday morning after learning about Hicks or Thursday evening as he said on Hannity or both.
Trump ended up spending four days in Walter Reed Hospital Center being treated for COVID.
During his stay he faced more criticism for getting in an enclosed SUV with Secret Service agents to drive around the hospital to thank his supporters outside. And, upon his return to the White House on Monday, he climbed the stairs to the South Portico and took off his face mask.
He has rarely worn one in public since checking out of the hospital. He claims he is now immune and his doctor says he is no longer contagious.
‘I have immunity now,’ the president told Fox Business’ Stuart Varney on Thursday morning ahead of his trip to North Carolina and Florida.
‘I’m tested, not every day but I’m tested a lot,’ he said.
White House officials wanted to keep Hope Hicks’ COVID diagnosis a secret after she tested positive for the disease – above she exits Marine One on September 30th – her last trip before her COVID diagnosis
Hope Hicks wears a face mask aboard Marine One in mid-September
Hope Hicks hours before her diagnosis: Hope Hicks, far right, is pictured boarding Marine One on Wednesday. The President was also on board alongside Stephen Miller, second from right, Jared Kushner, center. Her coronavirus diagnosis was announced the next day. They were on their way to Minnesota when this photograph was taken. She started feeling unwell on the way back
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows gave a different version of events when he said the administration learned of Hicks’ diagnosis on that Thursday afternoon, as Marine One was preparing to lift off for the president’s fundraiser.
‘I’m not going to get into the tiktok,’ he told reporters at the time.
‘In terms of Hope Hicks, we discovered that right as the Marine One was taking off yesterday. We actually pulled some of the people that had been traveling and in close contact,’ he added.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and White House social media director Dan Scavino were two of the staffers pulled from that New Jersey trip. They had traveled with Hicks on Air Force One to the presidential debate in Cleveland and the Minnesota events.
Additionally McEnany held a briefing in the White House press room on Thursday but has said she did not know of Hicks’ diagnosis at the time. The briefing took place an hour before Marine One departed and McEnany did not wear a face mask for it although reporters in the room did.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tested positive the day after the presidential debate in Cleveland after feeling ill. She frequently travels with the president.
‘After a member of her family tested positive for COVID-19, the Chairwoman was tested for the virus. On Wednesday afternoon, she got confirmation she was COVID-19 positive,’ an RNC spokesperson said. ‘She has been at her home in Michigan since last Saturday.’
Only a very small circle of people knew that Hicks had tested positive, and senior staff had hoped to keep that information private, reported Bloomberg News, which broke the news of her diagnosis.
It’s unclear when and how Hicks, 31, contracted the disease.
Senior staff are supposed to be tested daily for COVID but the Abbott test the White House uses is only 50 to 80 per cent accurate.