Gold-Star Family, other White House guests may have been put in harm’s way by Trump’s coronavirus

The Gold Star Family of United States Marine Capt. Jesse Melton III (all unmasked) poses for a photo with President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump during a reception in honor of Gold Star Families Sept. 27 in the Blue Room of the White House. Both the president and first lady tested positive for the coronavirus only a few days later. (official White House photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Donald Trump has returned to the White House after being hospitalized at the Walter Reed Medical Center for Covid-19 infection. The president, long criticized for rarely adhering to and even mocking CDC guidelines for mask-wearing for protection, has since continued to downplay the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people across the U. S.

Much focus has been placed on the Sept. 28 Rose Garden gathering where Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court pick to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A string of people who attended that event (where nearly everyone was unmasked) has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

However, another event the very next day, which hosted over 100 people inside the White House East Room, might also have spread the virus from the Trumps to unsuspecting guests at the White House. A Black family, including the Gold Star mother of decorated Marine Capt. Jesse Melton, was in attendance alongside the unmasked Trump and First Lady Melania.

The mother, Janice Chance, chaplain and president-emerita of the Gold Star Mothers of Maryland, who attended the ceremony with other family members, declined comment in response to an emailed interview request. It is not clear whether they nor any of the families at that ceremony were notified about Trump’s positive corona test—or whether anyone in attendance at the gold star ceremony was tested.

Since those gatherings, more than a dozen people who either attended the Rose Garden event for the Supreme Court nominee or have direct connections to Trump or the White House have tested positive for the virus. They include President Trump; First Lady Melania Trump; Presidential Aide Hope Hicks; Senior Presidential Advisor Stephen Miller; White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany; Presidential Assistant Nicholas Luna; U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah); U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.); U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.); former Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway; White House Principal Assistant Press Secretary Chad Gilmartin; Assistant Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt; Trump Campaign Manager Bill Stepien; Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel; and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

As Trump left the hospital the evening of Oct. 5, after a two-day stay, he sought to downplay the infection from the virus which has killed 209,560 (CDC) people in the U.S.—disproportionately Black. Standing on the White House balcony, Trump appeared to ceremoniously peel off his mask and stuff it in his pocket. Despite his doctors saying he is “not out of the woods yet.” He later tweeted a video saying: “Don’t be afraid of COVID.”

Meanwhile, his re-election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, continued to test negative for COVID-19. In a speech late Tuesday, he appeared to appeal to America to get back to sanity.

Reciting the opening words of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Biden said: “He taught us this: A house divided could not stand. That is a great and timeless truth. Today, once again, we’re at a house divided. But that, my friends, can no longer be. We are facing too many crises; we have too much work to do; we have too bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the shores of anger and hate and division.”

Others were much stronger in their sentiments. In a video, also released Tuesday, former First Lady Michelle Obama referred to Trump’s “willful mismanagement of the COVID crisis.”

She accused him of “gas lighting the American people” and downplaying CDC guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing, “knowingly exposing his own supporters” to the deadly virus.

“Let’s be honest. Right now, our country is in chaos because of a president who isn’t up to the job,” Michelle Obama said in the approximately 20-minute video. “And if we want to regain any kind of stability, we’ve got to ensure that every eligible voter is informed and engaged in this election.”