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Trump aide Hope Hicks tests positive for coronavirus infection

Dan Scavino, left, Director of White House Social Media, Hope Hicks, White House counselor, and Stephen Miller, right, White House senior advisor, walk to Marine One prior to departing with President Donald Trump from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on September 21, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s closest aides, has tested positive for coronavirus infection, according to people familiar with the matter.

There was no indication that the president has contracted the virus, the people said. Hicks traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One to and from the presidential debate Tuesday.

The people asked not to be identified because Hicks’ infection has not been publicly announced. Messages left for Hicks were not immediately returned.

Hicks is the latest person in Trump’s orbit to contract the virus, which has infected more than 7.2 million Americans and killed more than 200,000. Other senior staff members have contracted COVID-19 and recovered including national security adviser Robert O’Brien, but few spend as much time with the president as Hicks, whose service dates to his 2016 campaign.

Some people close to Hicks were told that she is experiencing symptoms of the disease.

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“The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. “White House Operations collaborates with the physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible, both on complex and when the president is traveling.”

Hicks traveled with Trump to his debate with Biden on Tuesday and to a Minnesota rally Wednesday. Trump’s entourage entered the debate hall without face coverings, or removed them as they sat down, and refused an offer of masks from a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, which was co-hosting the event.

Hicks was seen Tuesday riding without a mask in a staff van with White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, campaign adviser Jason Miller and others.

When they returned to Washington on Tuesday, Stephen Miller and Hicks were seen sharing an umbrella as they exited Air Force One in the rain. Miller’s wife, Katie Miller — Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary — recovered from COVID-19 earlier this year.

Trump is tested regularly for infection, though its not clear precisely how often. People who work in the White House are tested daily, including members of the press corps, and anyone scheduled to meet with the president is tested beforehand.

Trump’s staff members wear masks when traveling with him aboard the presidential helicopter, Marine One, and Hicks observed that protocol this week.

But his aides worry that Trump’s lack of sleep during the final stretch of the campaign could leave him especially vulnerable to infection. The president did not return to the White House until after midnight after his Tuesday and Wednesday trips. Trump’s age, 74, also puts him at greater risk for serious illness from the virus.

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©2020 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.