There were screening questions on the form to RSVP, but no coronavirus tests or temperature checks were done at the White House, the person said. The Trump campaign said earlier in the day that about 70 people would be attending the speech, which was the first one with an in-person audience at the Republican convention.
Early Wednesday morning, the first lady’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham told CNN that the audience members “in the rows near the President and vice president” were tested for coronavirus before the speech.
Grisham said most of the guests were not tested, especially those “in the last five or six rows,” but she claims anyone who came into close contact with Trump or Pence — including senior aides, staffers and Melana Trump’s parents — were tested.
The vast majority of those attending did not wear masks, and the chairs provided for attendees did not appear to be placed six feet apart. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises keeping at least six feet apart from others if possible in order to prevent the spread of the virus, and the agency also advocates for face coverings, especially if it is difficult to keep six feet apart from another person.
In Washington, DC, the government currently prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We contracted with a coronavirus adviser and all suggested protocols were followed,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told CNN. He did not answer an inquiry about whether everyone who attended the speech was tested.
Melania Trump, whose speech stood in stark contrast to the rest of the messaging of the convention, was one of the few speakers who offered deeply felt condolences to the families of the nearly 180,000 people in the US who have died due to coronavirus. She expressed her gratitude for the many first responders who have been on the front lines dealing with the more than 5.7 million coronavirus cases in the US.
The first lady’s speech was attended by President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, second lady Karen Pence and members of Trump’s Cabinet, among others.
Last month, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the President receives multiple coronavirus tests every day. For months during the pandemic Trump was reluctant to wear a face covering in public, but the President pivoted in July and tweeted a picture of himself in a mask and suggested wearing a mask was “patriotic.”