BEDMINSTER, NJ - President Donald Trump attended an exclusive, high-end fund-raising event at Trump National Golf Club Thursday afternoon and flew back to Washington where hours later, the president sent out a Tweet confirming both he and First Lady Melania Trump had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
"We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER," the president said.
Early Friday evening, the president walked out of the White House and boarded Marine-1 for a short flight to Walter Reed Hospital where he will be treated the next few days. He will have access to the presidential suite at the hospital and is expected to continue working, according to a presidential spokesman.
Thursday's event was attended by upwards of 100 people, many of them allies and supporters of the president willing to pay $250,000 for the privilege of dining with the president, a photo opp and limited conversation.
An effort by the Somerset County Health Department to reach those in attendance ia being undertaken by contact tracers.
Nathan Rudy, Somerset County Public Information director, released the following statement:
"The Somerset County Department of Health was informed this morning that an event was held at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, NJ, on Oct. 1 after which President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
"As the public health department for Bedminster, and in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, Somerset County has begun the contact tracing investigation to determine the potential risk of exposure to attendees and staff at the facility to COVID-19.
"As a first step, the county has reached out to Trump National Golf Course with a request for lists of facility staff, event participants, and other people to help identify those who may have come in close contact with individuals that tested positive. The county Department will recommend appropriate public health control measures to identify close contacts based on the investigation."
The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office routinely sends upwards of 10-12 detectives to bolster the security detail at Trump National, which is the president's "go to" place outside of Washington to play golf and enjoy periodic vacations. Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson, whose father served with the Secret Service on President Reagan's security detail, confirmed a contingent of detectives was working a security detail on a public roadway that cuts through Trump's property Thursday, but that they were nowhere near the president.
Robertson said he doubted his detectives would need to be tested for COVID-19.
"If we need to, we absolutely will," he said.
The news spread quickly Friday morning, with the state's leading Democrat, Gov. Phil Murphy and wife Tammy Murphy expressing their best wishes to the Trumps:
"Tammy and I send our best wishes to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a speedy and complete return to good health. If there is one thing we have learned in New Jersey over these months, it's that we pull together and support everyone fighting this virus."
Later on Friday during a public event in Ocean County Murphy expanded on his statement:
“If there is one thing we have learned in New Jersey over these past six or seven months, it is that we all pull together and support everyone fighting this virus,” he said. “I’ve reached out to the White House to family members today. (Chief of Staff) George Helmy has reached out to the White House, to the RNC (Republican National Committee), and the president has heard that we are praying for him. We ask that you keep the president and first lady in your prayers.”
Murphy also confirmed that the contact tracing process had begun.
"The contact-tracing process is underway. We urge everyone who attended yesterday's event in Bedminster to take full precautions, including self-quarantining and getting tested."
He instructed those who may have been at the 520-acre Trump National Golf Club to wait five or seven days to get tested.
“Even then if you test negative, you have to stay off the field for the full 14 days and would probably want to get tested again at the end of that period,” Murphy said.
Trump's opponent in next month's Presidential election, Joe Biden and his wife Jill, expressed their support for the president and first lady, as did other political opponents, including former President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Obama said “We’re all Americans, and we’re all human beings.”
The former president spoke during a virtual fundraiser with Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris who said “Let it be a reminder to all of us that we must remain vigilant and take care of ourselves and take care of each other,” she said.
Peg Schaefer, Somerset County Democratic chairwoman issued the following statement:
“NJ 101.5, a Pro Trump talk radio station reports that the President knew he, his staff, and his Secret Service protection had been exposed to -- in Air Force One’s enclosed cabin with recycled air! -- and may have contracted COVID-19 on Thursday morning, and instead of following CDC guidelines and isolating until his test came through Trump came to Somerset County and held an indoor, mask-free fundraiser with Central Jersey business, government, and political leaders."
"And this morning we wake up to learn that Trump was infected with COVID-19 while glad-handing his supporters in Bedminster."
“While this is completely irresponsible behavior for anyone, for the President of the United States to risk the health and lives of his own supporters, their families, their neighbors and the workers and wait staff at his club is unfathomably selfish."
Tim Howes, Somerset County Republican chairman issued the following statement:
"The Somerset County Republican Organization wishes good health to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. No members of the Executive Committee attended the fundraiser held on Thursday. No candidates attended the fundraiser. Our organization was and continues to be busy working to re-elect Frank Bruno, Brian Gallagher and Brian Levine, and Republican candidates all across Somerset County."
An email was sent to donors by the Trump/Pence fundraising committee suggesting attendees contact a doctor if they develop symptoms some of which include fever,dry cough, tiredness, aches and pains, sore throat, headache, loss of taste or smell.
The email also noted that nobody had been allowed within 6 feet of the president in compliance with accepted social standards.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we want to call this to your attention. Please be reminded that due to Trump Victory-protocol, no attendees were allowed within 6 feet of President Trump at the event,” the email said. “Please contact your medical provider if you or any of your loved ones is ill or develops a fever, shortness of breath or other respiratory symptoms.”
TAPinto editor Chuck O'Donnell contributed to this report.