White House aide Stephen Miller tests positive for the coronavirus

Nation/world

Stephen Miller, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and speechwriter, tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday.

A senior administration official said Miller had previously tested negative as White House officials have tried to contain an outbreak on the complex that has infected Trump, the first lady and more than a dozen other aides and associates.

Miller is an architect of the president’s “America First” foreign policy and restrictive immigration measures.

His wife, Katie Miller, who serves as communications director to Vice President Mike Pence, previously had the virus and tested negative after the last time she saw him. Katie Miller had been in Salt Lake City with Pence, where he is preparing to debate Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, but she left as soon as she found out about her husband’s diagnosis.

As Trump convalesced out of sight in the White House, the administration defended the protections it has put in place to protect the staff working there to treat and support him. Trump again publicly played down the virus on Twitter after his return from a three-day hospitalization.

In one significant national coronavirus action, Trump declared there would be no action before the election on economic-stimulus legislation — an announcement that came not long after the Federal Reserve chairman said such help was essential for recovery with the nation reeling from the human and economic cost of the pandemic. Stocks fell on the White House news.

Trump was working out of makeshift office space on the ground floor of the White House residence, in close proximity to the White House Medical Unit’s office suite, with only a few aides granted a face-to-face audience with the president. The West Wing was largely vacant, as a number of Trump’s aides were either sick or quarantining after exposure to people infected with the virus, or otherwise working remotely as a precaution.

Elsewhere in the government, the scope of the outbreak was still being uncovered. On Tuesday, the nation’s top military leaders including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, and the vice chairman, Gen. John Hyten, were in quarantine after exposure to Adm. Charles W. Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard.

It was not known how Ray contracted the virus, but he attended an event for military families at the White House on Sept. 27. The Coast Guard said in a statement that Ray felt mild symptoms over the weekend and was tested on Monday.

First lady Melania Trump was isolating upstairs in the White House. On Tuesday, her office released a memo outlining extensive health and safety precautions that have been put in place in the executive residence, including adopting hospital-grade disinfection policies, encouraging “maximum teleworking” and installing additional sanitization and filtration systems. Residence staff in direct contact with the first family are tested daily and support staff are tested every 48 hours. And since the president and Mrs. Trump tested positive, staff have been wearing “full PPE.”

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