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Marine assigned to Trump’s helicopter unit tests positive for coronavirus

Marine One, carrying President Donald J. Trump, lifts-off from the South Lawn of the White House Thursday, May 16, 2019, en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian/Released)

A Marine assigned to the military unit that flies Marine One tested positive for coronavirus but did not have direct contact with President Donald Trump or his presidential helicopter, the Marine Corps said Thursday.

“The Marine, who had been in Bedminster, New Jersey, prior to Trump’s travel there, did not have direct contact with Marine One, the president’s helicopter,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.

“The Marine is asymptomatic. Contact tracing is being conducted with the White House, and Marines who may have had contact with the infected Marine have been removed from the unit,” the statement read.

The aircraft in the presidential unit are being sanitized and Trump’s weekend trip to his golf club in Bedminster on Friday is not expected to be affected.

A senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed “the individual did not have contact with the president or any administration personnel.”

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The incident is the latest example of the coronavirus pandemic affecting White House operations as the administration grapples with a surge in cases across the country.

Public health officials reported Thursday that 4 million people in the U.S. had been infected with the virus, but federal data suggests the true rates of infection of COVID-19 could be more than 10 times higher than the number of cases reported across the country from late March to early May. Meanwhile, almost 150,000 people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus.

The White House is reportedly conducting contact tracing after an employee who worked at the cafeteria and an eatery at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building tested positive for the coronavirus this week, according to multiple media reports. The eatery and cafeteria, where staffers frequently dine, have been closed out of precaution.

One of the president’s personal military valets and a senior member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, Katie Miller, who is married to the president’s senior aide Stephen Miller, both tested positive for COVID-19 in May.

More recently, Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. and a senior Trump campaign aide, tested positive just before the president’s Mount Rushmore speech over the July 4 holiday weekend. The pair left the event and immediately went into quarantine.

The president and vice president are tested for the virus routinely, and people who come into contact with them are also screened for coronavirus.

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© 2020 USA Today