Former President Donald Trump went after the media Monday for continuing to report that he tested positive for COVID-19 three days before the first presidential debate and six days before he announced he had the disease.
'The Fake News continues to push the false narrative that I had COVID prior to the first debate,' Trump said in a statement. 'Biden goes around coughing on people all over the place, and yet the Corrupt News doesn't even cover it.'
Last week, the Guardian obtained a copy of Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows' forthcoming book, where Meadows revealed Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 the day of the Amy Coney Barrett 'super-spreader' event, which had previously been kept a secret.
Biden had a cold on Friday, which he said came from his grandson Beau, with the White House saying he had been tested for COVID-19 multiple times.
The Washington Post conducted an analysis of Trump's interactions following the initial Guardian report and found that he came in contact with more than 500 people from the day he received the positive COVID test until he was hospitalized at Walter Reed.
Because Trump tested negative the same day, the president kept his full slate of engagements, which included rallies, an event with Gold Star families, press briefings and the debate.
President Donald Trump (left) tested positive for COVID-19 three days before his first debate against now President Joe Biden (right) on September 29, Mark Meadows reveals in his forthcoming book. Trump has continued to hit back at the media for reporting this as fact
In a statement Monday, Trump said: 'Biden goes around coughing on people all over the place, and yet the Corrupt News doesn't even cover it.' Biden said on Friday that he had a cold thanks to his grandson Beau
'Had I been there, and Dr. Conley would have told me they would have received a positive test, I would have assumed it was accurate and frankly canceled everything right away,' John Kelly, the president's second chief of staff, told The Post.
Kelly also said he would have immediately rushed Trump to Walter Reed, where he was treated for COVID days later.
'To do anything else would be irresponsible,' Kelly told the paper. 'You don't want him infecting other people, whether it's Gold Star families, members of the Cabinet, or Secret Service, the staff, or anyone else around him.'
The Post also spoke with former White House communications director Alyssa Farah, who said she asked Meadows and other senior staff when Trump's last COVID test was, as she was getting questions about it from reporters connected with the debate.
Trump's September 26 positive test 'was clearly withheld from me because I would have been among the senior staff who were around him. I was constantly in proximity. I should have been contact traced,' Farah said.
'It just demonstrates a disregard for the well-being of others,' she added.
Despite Meadows saying that Trump knew he tested positive for COVID-19 on September 26, the president would go on to suggest that he caught the virus from Gold Star family members at an event on September 27
President Donald Trump's second chief of staff John Kelly (left) said he would have cancelled all of Trump's event if he'd still been at the White House, while former White House communications director Alyssa Farah (right) told The Post she couldn't get a straight answer from senior staff about when Trump last took a COVID test before his debate with Joe Biden
Meanwhile on Monday, Trump was knocking Biden's response to the pandemic.
'Biden said that he was going to "beat the virus," but instead, the virus has beaten him—and badly. Far more people died this year than last, despite tremendous help from vaccines and therapeutics developed under "Trump,"' the former president said. 'He said anybody with his results should leave office. Well Joe, what are you waiting for!'
Trump has hit back against Meadows' claim.
'The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News,' Trump wrote in a statement. 'In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate.'
In the statement, Trump doesn't deny he received a positive test.
Meadows, too, even tried to walk it back, saying he was 'clearly referring to a "false positive" test the president received.
But a medical expert interviewed by The Post, thinks it's more feasible that Trump's positive test, on September 26, was indeed accurate.
'It would make more sense that you would test positive and then a lot of patients we see hospitalized end up hospitalized on Day 10 or that second week, when the inflammatory response of the immune system is taking over,' said Abraar Karan, an infectious-disease doctor and global health researcher at Stanford University.
'Let’s say you're exposed today. You may not test positive for three to five days because the virus is in its early stages incubating, so that first week, you’re testing positive, but it’s really in that second week - seven, 10, 14 days out - that you could have more severe symptoms from inflammatory response,' Karan added.
Meadows writes in his book that Trump tested positive on September 26, the day he held a Rose Garden event announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, which turned into a super-spreader.
Two White House aides familiar with the test confirmed it was positive to the Washington Post.
The Post also reported that attendees were never told Trump tested positive after the event.
It was six days before Trump tweeted that he was infected with the virus and subsequently hospitalized.
As Trump boarded Marine One on the way to a Pennsylvania rally scheduled for after the Saturday Barrett event, White House Dr. Sean Conley told Meadows, 'Stop the president from leaving. He just tested positive for COVID.'
It was too late to stop the helicopter, and when Meadows informed Trump of the positive test while onboard Air Force One, the president said something that rhymes with, 'Oh spit, you've gotta be trucking lidding me.'
The Guardian obtained a copy of Meadows' book, The Chief's Chief, which comes out next week, on Tuesday.
Meadows said Trump's initial test had been done using an old model kit and so the president was tested again using 'the Binax system, and that we were hoping the first test was a false positive.'
The second test came back negative, with Trump taking that as 'full permission to press on as if nothing had happened.'
Both tests were rapid tests.
At the time of their showdown in Cleveland on September 29, Trump was 74 years old, while Biden was 77.
'I don't think about the former president,' Biden replied when asked if he believed Trump put him at risk.
Pictured: Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump's final chief of staff during his time in the White House. Meadows is releasing a new book titled The Chief's Chief, in which he revealed Trump tested positive for COVID three days before a debate with Joe Biden
Saturday, September 26: Trump announces his Supreme Court pick at the White House, then travels to a rally in Pennsylvania with aides including Hope Hicks.
Trump tests positive for Covid-19, according to Mark Meadows' new book.
Sunday, September 27: The president plays golf in Virginia, gives a press conference in the White House briefing room and hosts a reception for Gold Star families.
Monday, September 28: Trump gives a press briefing and inspects pickup vehicles on the White House lawn.
Tuesday, September 29: Hicks is aboard Air Force One with the president and Melania to travel to the first presidential debate in Cleveland. Hicks is seen leaving the jet without a mask.
The president spars with Joe Biden in a chaotic debate. Trump family members do not wear masks during the debate, violating venue rules.
Wednesday, September 30: Hicks travels on Marine One and on Air Force One to a rally in Minnesota Wednesday.
She is understood to have felt poorly on the way back, quarantining on the presidential plane to get home.
Thursday, October 1: Trump still travels to New Jersey for a fundraiser.
Hicks tests positive.
Trump says he is awaiting test results, before confirming he and wife Melania have tested positive for Covid-19.
Friday, October 2: A political rally in Sanford, Florida is cancelled.
Trump went on to announce that he had COVID-19 in the early hours of October 2, three days after his debate with Biden.
The White House said the then-president announced the positive result within an hour of receiving it.
Trump flew to Walter Reed Medical Center for medical attention later that day.
On Saturday evening, September 26, Meadows wrote that Trump looked 'a little tired' and he suspected the president had a 'slight cold,' but he was 'content' with Trump traveling to the rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania.